Italian police today seized $587 million in property assets in an anti-mafia inquiry in which 20 people were arrested including a British man with suspected ties to the IRA.

The investigation which began in 2008 was centred on activities of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia based in the Calabria region in southern Italy, focusing on investments in the tourism and real estate sectors.

The assets seized included entire holiday villages.

Those arrested were mostly members of two local crime families, police said in a statement.

But they included two Spaniards and one British man who were captured in joint operations with Spanish and British police, the statement said, without adding where the arrests took place.

The police said the British man arrested “is considered by British investigators to be close to the IRA,” the Irish Republican Army militant group which has now mostly been disbanded.

Proceeds from his investments in southern Italy allowed the British man “to reinvest large sums of money,” the police statement said, although it did not say what he was putting the money into.

The police also said members of the Calabrian mafia and Spanish businessmen had created a “joint venture” to build residential and tourism properties in Calabria starting in 2005.

The police seized a total of 12 companies —— most of them property holdings —— and 15 holiday villages for a total value of $587 million.

(This article was published on March 5, 2013)
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