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EU report names Aberdeen as mafia ‘stronghold’

Aberdeen restaurateur Antonio La Torre – who Italian prosecutors named as a Camorra crime lord  – was arrested in 2005. He was later jailed in Italy
Aberdeen restaurateur Antonio La Torre – who Italian prosecutors named as a Camorra crime lord – was arrested in 2005. He was later jailed in Italy

A new European Union report has identified Aberdeen as a stronghold for Italy’s deadly Camorra mafia clan.

The Naples-based crime group has interests in the catering, food retail and property sectors in the Granite City, according a new study.

According to Italian MEP Oreste Rossi, the Transcrime research centre found evidence that Camorra and two other gangs – ‘Ndrangheta and the Sicilian Mafia – have operations in the UK.

It will publish its full report later this year

The project, which was funded by the EU, is investigating how the main organised criminal groups invested the proceeds of their crimes in selected countries between 2007 and 2013.

“The Camorra stronghold is Aberdeen, the third most populous city in Scotland, where it controls the catering, public works, food retail and wholesale and property sectors,” Mr Rossi told the European Parliament.

The Camorra, which is made up of family crime networks, is said to have killed more people than any other crime organisation in Europe.

The report adds: “The Sicilian Mafia runs illegal gambling dens in London. The ‘Ndrangheta also has a presence in London, in the property sector.”

Aberdeen has been repeatedly linked with mafia activity over the past decade.

City restaurateur Antonio La Torre – who Italian prosecutors named as a Camorra crime lord – was arrested in 2005 and jailed in Italy for extortion and racketeering.

He is the brother of Augusto La Torre, who later confessed murdering 40 people in Italy.

Former Aberdeen restaurateur Michele Siciliano, who is said to have looked after La Torre’s finances following his extradition, also gave himself up to anti-mafia prosecutors the following year.

Another city restaurant boss, Ciro Schiattarella, spent time in jail after being extradited to Italy to face charges.

Former Aberdeen City Council leader Barney Crockett said the mafia’s presence in Aberdeen was no secret.

“I think the attraction of Aberdeen is the fact that they can swap over a lot of money, because it is such a busy business environment,” he said.

“However, I am totally confident that there is no involvement in public works of any description.”

But the suggestion that the city remains in the grip of mobsters has been strongly denied by Italians in Aberdeen, who say it is an insult to the city’s 600-strong Italian community.

Nevertheless, Mr Rossi is using the new report to push for fresh crime prevention “tools” to combat mafia money laundering across Europe.

Last night, former MEP Struan Stevenson, said the claims in the report were “absolutely staggering”.

“It is well known that criminal gangs in Scotland use legitimate business operations to turn their dirty money into clean money,” he said.

“But these have always been home-grown gangs, usually from Glasgow, where money has been known to go into things like taxi companies and construction firms.

“It is absolutely staggering, but probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Camorra has twigged that places like Aberdeen are potential havens for them to launder money.

“Scottish police need to get to the bottom of whether the findings of this report are true – and if it is, there needs to be unilateral action to stamp it out. New European laws to back this up would be helpful.”

The Transcrime report also identifies mafia operations in Romania, Spain, Portugal and France in industries such as the catering, property, transport and farming.

Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Home Affairs, said the report is currently being analysed by Brussels officials and will influence new legislation being drawn up.

“The Commission intends to take into account the results of this study in order to consider further measures aimed at preventing the infiltration of organised crime into the legal economy of the Union,” she said.

Police Scotland declined to comment on the report.

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