AN AUSTRIAN NEWS MAGAZINE has claimed that the Austrian subsidiary of Anglo Irish Bank held accounts used by the Italian Mafia to launder cash raised through illegal activity.
The magazine ‘profil‘ said prosecution documents compiled by prosecutors in Rome had identified accounts in the Irish state-owned bank as being used to house the proceeds of organised crime.
Profil said cash was transferred into the accounts through the Italian internet service provider Fastweb and through Telecom Italia Sparkle. The two companies are thought to have billed for non-existent internet and telephone services to the tune of €1.8bn, in a scheme that saw them evade €365m in tax.
The founder of Sparkle, Silvio Scaglia, was one of 56 people for whom arrest warrants were issued last month, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The accounts were used to launder the cash between 2005 and 2007, it said, meaning the activity would have taken place before the government took control of Anglo in December 2008.
The accounts were frozen in autumn of 2007 when Austrian prosecutors, on the request of their Italian counterparts, froze the accounts. They had already been emptied by that time, however, because their owners had learnt of the investigation into their dealings.
As with the other banks involved, Raiffeisen Zentralbank and Bank Austria (itself a subsidiary of the Italian group UniCredit), Anglo has refused to comment other than to say it was cooperating with the investigation and that it had reported its clients’ dealings to local law enforcement.