London: Fashion designer Gianni Versace was allegedly murdered because of debts to the Mafia.
The 50-year-old was gunned down on the steps of his Miami apartment in 1997 by serial killer Andrew Cunanan.
According to a new book by Giuseppe Di Bella, a former member of the Calabrian Mafia known as the N``drangheta, Versace was allegedly killed "over debts" he had with the Godfathers.
In the book ‘Metastasi’, Di Bella alleges that Versace was being used by Godfather Paolo De Stefano to launder money.
Di Bella told investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi: "There were rivers of money from drugs, extortion, protection rackets, loan sharking, mountains of money and it had to be made clean.
"Bars, restaurants, property and luxury goods were used but also clean businesses like that of Versace."
Di Bella also describes how the N``drangheta plotted to steal Versace``s ashes from a cemetery near his family home on Lake Como on New Year``s Eve 1997 but it was never carried out.
"We have opened a file into what Di Bella says – he is an informer and his information in the past has always proved correct," the Telegraph quoted Giancarlo Capaldo, of the Rome-based anti Mafia department, as saying.
In a statement the Versace family denounced the claims as "false and shameful".
"We reserve the right to protect the memory and reputation of Gianni Versace in civil and criminal courts," the statement added.