Italian police have seized a yacht that once belonged to Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini from a businessman suspected to be linked to organised crime.

The yacht was among €28 million ($47 million) in assets - including real estate and luxury cars - seized after an investigation into three individuals and 10 firms, finance police said.

A confiscation order from a Rome court named the yacht owner as Salvatore Squillante, 68. The lawyer acting for Squillante declined to comment.

Squillante bought the classic sailing boat, christened the Black Flame by a Fascist friend who gave it to Mussolini as a present in the 1930s, through one of the seized companies.


The boat was deliberately sunk in 1943 to stop it falling into German hands after the Fascist regime fell, and was hauled out and restored after the war.

The court document said Squillante, who served a community service sentence for a 1993 fraudulent bankruptcy, made business deals that suggested he might be linked to a Rome-based mafia network allegedly run by one-eyed ultra-rightist Massimo Carminati.

He rented property to a firm owned by convicted murderer Salvatore Buzzi, who is accused of being a prominent member of the crime ring that allegedly skimmed millions of euros off city hall contracts in Rome.

His activities "could raise suspicions of a possible hidden pact between this man and members of organised crime [groups]," the court document said.

During the "Capital Mafia" investigation, police who had tapped Buzzi's telephone recorded him saying the drug trade was less lucrative than schemes involving migrants.