The combined turnover of Italy's Mafia groups has now overtaken that of the European Union's budget as the Mob spreads its tendrils overseas, a senior government adviser has warned.
Giovanni Brauzzi, the security policy director at the Italian Foreign Ministry, has claimed that the Mob's annual income had now passed the 200 billion ($319.5 billion) mark, compared with a total EU spend of 140 billion.
Speaking at a conference in Brussels, Brauzzi also underlined the international dimension of Italian organised crime groups, including Sicily's Cosa Nostra, the Calabria-based 'Ndrangheta and the Camorra of the Naples area. "They invest only 10 per cent of this budget in Italy; the rest they invest in countries in Europe and elsewhere. They have good friends everywhere."
Organised crime has infiltrated "the most important companies working in financial transactions", added Brauzzi.
The news comes as the centre-right Forza Italia party, led by disgraced former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, was this week accused of trying to kill a bill aimed at halting the Mafia's ability to sell votes in the south of Italy to corrupt politicians.
The money-for-votes racket is a key means by which the Mafia earns money and maintains power.
The legislation, which has already passed through the Senate, aims to make vote rigging in collusion with the Mafia a criminal offence. But it is at risk of being smothered by 1000 or so amendments from Forza Italia MPs.
Rosy Bindi, the centre-left head of the parliamentary anti-Mafia commission attacked the centre-right's tactics. "This is very serious. We are one step away from a reform that has been long awaited," she said.
The latest estimate of mob income is up 42 per cent from the 2012 figure produced by the Confesercenti employers organisation, which, in 2012, claimed that the Mafia generated an annual turnover of 140 billion.
The 2012 report said a growing number of small- and medium-sized businesses were coming into contact with Mafia, which it described as the biggest bank in the country with 65 billion in liquidity. Independent