A report by an Italian anti-Mafia foundation has warned that Malta might be “taken over by Mafia interests” if nothing is done and if the EU keeps “closing its eyes” to what is happening on the island.

In its conclusions after establishing “facts” on the infiltration of Italian Mafia business in the island, particularly through online gambling, the Florence-based Fondazione Caponnetto said that “if no immediate action is taken, Malta risks being controlled by local and international criminal groups” connected to the Mafia.

The report claims that the attitude of foreign groups using Malta for their interests, aimed at going around international sanctions, represents “a risk factor which cannot be ignored”.

“There is a real risk which an EU member state cannot afford and the report is aimed to act as a wake-up call before it's too late.”

The 24-page report, published a few days ago, lists a series of episodes in recent years, which according to the foundation clearly indicate that the Mafia’s presence in Malta is alive and kicking.

Citing Italian police investigations, the foundation found connections between Malta-registered businesses and many known Italian criminal and Mafia organisations and individuals including the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta, Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and the Camorra.

The report mentions Italian criminal gangs and families, well known to Italian police that have had or still have connections with Malta.

These include the Santapaola Ercolano, Nardo, Clan Partiniocio and the Messina Denaro families.

Quoting classified reports by the Italian police and other anti-criminality agencies, the foundation said many Italian Mafia bosses have realised they can use the island to launder money coming from illegal activities in Italy and other countries including Austria and Switzerland, through established gaming societies.

According to the report, some of these businesses operate in Malta in a legal way but pump their money and cash through purely criminal activity.

The report also mentions a number of Italian ‘Mafiosi’ who had disappeared from Italy as they were either under investigation or even convicted, and who had fled justice through Malta.

According to a police report cited by the foundation, in 2016, a member of the Nardo clan who had been on the run for a number of years, was found and arrested in a house in Mosta.

The report also delved into various decisions taken by the Maltese government, which, according to the foundation, may be seen as “attracting” criminal organisations.

According to Fondazione Caponnetto, the passport sale scheme, introduced in 2013, may be one of the schemes being used by criminals to infiltrate Malta and other EU Member States.

The report states that the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and the conclusions of the ‘Dirty Oil’ investigations, which found that the island was being used as a centre of illegal oil trafficking from Libya, should act as a red light for the EU that Malta needs to be put under check.

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