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Cafe’ de Paris

Rome – Almost a fifth of all restaurants in Rome and Milan have fallen into mafia hands, according to a report published Friday by one of Italy’s main newspapers.

“It is the largest are staurant chain’ in Italy, controlling at least 5,000 establishments, (employing) 16,000 people and with a turnover of more than a billion euros (1.28 billion dollars),” Rome-based daily La Repubblica said.

Besides the rich revenues that trendy establishments can generate, mafia interest is also fuelled by the opportunities for money-laundering, especially when false tax receipts are issued and payment transactions are done in cash rather than with credit cards which are traceable.

In some cases, restaurants have been taken over by loan-sharking mobsters after the original owners defaulted with debt repayments.

The report cited several well known police investigations undertaken in recent years, including one that revealed how the Cafe de Paris in Rome’s glamorous Via Veneto was controlled by a crime family associated with the Calabrian mafia, the ‘Ndrangheta.

But the involvement in the restaurant business of organised crime syndicates, mainly from southern Italy – including Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and the Naples-centred Camorra – has spread throughout Italy, the report said.

“Some 15 per cent of the whole sector,” has been subjected to some sort of mafia infiltration, Enzo Ciconte, the former president of a anti-crime watchdog, L’Osservatorio sulla Legalitata’ told La Repubblica.

Besides the main cities, mob clans have gained control of eateries in some of Italy’s most scenic and renowned holiday spots, such as Lake Garda.

The so-called “pasta connection” often makes use of front men, such as in the case of the Cafe de Paris, which was registered under the name of a barber from Calabria who, despite declaring an annual income of 15,000 euros, reportedly paid 2.2 million euros to purchase the restaurant

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