London: Italian mafia is spreading its tentacles in the UK, with London firms acting as fronts for drug-dealing and money-laundering, a media report has claimed.
Britain`s Gambling Commission recently suspended the licence of Paradise Bet Ltd, a company based in the west London suburb of Hounslow that operates paradisebet.com.
The firm was shut when its assets were frozen by Italian police as part of their operation to break up the criminal Parisi clan from Puglia region, whose members are accused of attempted murder, drug smuggling and money-laundering.
According to a report in The Observer, 48-year-old Savino Parisi, head of the clan as well as politicians and businessmen, were believed to be among 74 people arrested in recent weeks by Italian officials in the city of Bari, where Paradise Bet has an operating office.
Police raids in Italy, aided by Britain`s Serious and Organised Crime Agency, seized 227 properties, 680 bank accounts, 61 luxury cars, nine stables, 71 horses and 35 businesses said to be worth USD 200 million in an operation code-named "Domino". Investigators feel the assets seized are just the tip of an iceberg.
Italy`s leading expert in organised crime, Francesco Forgione has drawn up a list of suspected mob investments in London in which Italy`s three main organised crime groups -- Sicily`s mafia, Calabria`s `Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan Camorra - are all represented.
The `Ndrangheta boasts a turnover of GBP 40 billion, which is larger than GDPs of Estonia and Slovenia combined.