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Italy’s Organized Crime Is Worth $204 Billion a Year, Report Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ROME) -- While Italy's new prime minister sweats to fix Italy's dire economic situation and Italians are hit with increased taxes, there are some in Italy who are doing just fine in the country: those in the mafia.

A report released on Tuesday by an Italian employers association states that organized crime is the biggest business in Italy, generating an annual turnover of 140 billion Euros, or over $204 billion.

The report by Confesercenti described the various different mafia clans with roots in different regions of the country as the "biggest bank" in the country, with 65 billion euros -- $83 billion -- in liquidity.  The association said the situation was a "national emergency" affecting businesses throughout Italy.

"During this economic crisis, mafia organizations are the only businessmen able to invest," said Marco Venturi, president of Conferscenti.

"We should never forget that the economic crisis is useful for organized crime which influences the legitimate economy and floods the illegal economy with both the production and sale of illegal goods," Venturi said.

He went on to say, "small and medium-size businesses are the main victims of rackets, loan sharking, and robberies by organized crime that generate 140 billion euros a year, of which 100 billion are extracted from companies."

In Italy, "mafia" is normally used to refer to the Sicilian clans, also known as La Cosa Nostra.  But there are four powerful branches of organized crime in Italy which have regional roots. Beside the Cosa Nostra, there is the Camorra in the Neapolitan region, the Ndragheta in Calabria, and the Sacra Corona Unita in Pugliese. They all operate and control illegal activities and funds worldwide, and do not normally work together.

Police in Italy have said there has been a marked increase in loan sharking due to the present economic climate. "According to our estimates, loan sharking has caused the closure of 1,800 businesses and destroyed thousands of jobs. Merchants are the most exposed to the phenomenon, and around 200,000 are victims of usury."

Confesercenti, which represents around 270,000 Italian businesses, estimates firms are subjected to 1,300 crimes a day or 50 every hour -- nearly one every minute.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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