Italian Mafia Gets Into the Green Energy Business

“Uncle Vincenzo,” implored Angelo Salvatore, using a term of affection for the head of Sicily’s Gimbellina crime family,. “For the love of our sons, renewable energy is important. . . . it’s a business we can live on.”

Ecoscam has been on a long journey, from fake scientific data claiming that the planet was about to blow up to being embraced by politicians who warned that unless everyone started paying higher taxes, the planet would blow up. Now finally Ecoscam has been given the greatest recognition possible for a fraudulent criminal enterprise, not the Nobel, but the Mafia Don.

Al Gore couldn't expect to keep all that sweet money to himself and his hedge fund buddies. The Mafia wants their piece of action.

“Uncle Vincenzo,” implored the businessman, Angelo Salvatore, using a term of affection for the alleged head of Sicily’s Gimbellina crime family, 79-year-old Vincenzo Funari. According to a transcript of their wiretapped conversation, Salvatore continued, “for the love of our sons, renewable energy is important. . . . it’s a business we can live on.”

And for quite awhile, Italian prosecutors say, they did. In an unfolding plot that is part “The Sopranos,” part “An Inconvenient Truth,” authorities swept across Sicily last month in the latest wave of sting operations revealing years of deep infiltration into the renewable energy sector by Italy’s rapidly modernizing crime families.

Like there's that much of a difference between Al Gore and Tony Soprano.

The still-emerging links of the mafia to the once-booming wind and solar sector here are raising fresh questions about the use of government subsidies to fuel a shift toward cleaner energies, with critics claiming huge state incentives created excessive profits for companies and a market bubble ripe for fraud.

Because it receives more sun and wind than any other part of Italy, Sicily became one of Europe’s most obvious hotbeds for renewable energies over the past decade. As the Italian government began offering billions of euros annually in subsidies for wind and solar development, the potential profitability of such projects also soared — a fact that did not go unnoticed by Sicily’s infamous crime families.

Roughly a third of the island’s 30 wind farms — along with several solar power plants — have been seized by authorities. Officials have frozen more than $2 billion in assets and arrested a dozen alleged crime bosses; corrupt local councilors and mafia-linked entrepreneurs. Italian prosecutors are now investigating suspected mafia involvement in renewable energy projects from Sardinia to Apulia.

“The Cosa Nostra is adapting, acquiring more advanced knowledge in new areas like renewable energy that have become more profitable because of government subsidies,” said Teresa Maria Principato, the deputy prosecutor in charge of Palermo’s Anti-Mafia Squad, whose headquarters here are emblazoned with the images of assassinated judges. “It is casting a shadow over our renewables industry.”

You can't cast a shadow over a scam. It's already a scam. Why not let the Mafia go Green too and grab some of Al Gore's money?