Monday, October 22, 2007

Crime doesn't pay?

In Italy, it pays well:

Revenue from organized crime amounts to an estimated $127 billion annually in Italy, making it the largest segment of the economy, a lobby group for small businesses said Monday.

The figure, representing about 7 percent of the country's gross domestic product, is made from illicit activities such as extortion, drug trafficking, loansharking and prostitution rings, the Confesercenti lobby said in a report.

....One of the major issues is the "pizzo," as extorted "protection" money is known. Many businessmen in southern Italy have long considered it an unavoidable expense. A business lobby of industrialists in Sicily recently said it would expel any member who pays the "pizzo."

But eliminating the "pizzo" has been met with violent resistance. Some merchants, factory owners and industrialists who have denounced extortion attempts by mobsters have seen their businesses torched or company vehicles damaged in recent years.

A small number of businessmen have also been killed for refusing to pay the protection money.

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