10 Businesses Supposedly Controlled by the Mafia

Wind Energy
Surely the Mafia's just really eco-friendly, right? Silvia Bianchini/iStock/Thinkstock

Talk about an ill wind. In countries across Europe, criminals are investing in wind farms and other types of green energy as a way to launder dirty money. In fact, a growing "eco Mafia" in Italy is taking advantage of environmental grants offered by the Italian government and the European Union by entering the wind business.

A combination of factors makes wind power attractive to criminals. There is a lack of regulation in the industry, a high price for the product, complicated financing — and government subsidies. Wind power sells for a higher price in Italy than anywhere else in the world, which is why there are now so many windmills dotting the Sicilian hills. While the country's citizens have to look at a propeller-filled landscape, they keep quiet for fear of retribution. Meanwhile, legitimate wind providers get muscled out of licenses to build working farms, or they are unwittingly sold licenses by the Mafia without knowing exactly what kind of businesspeople they're dealing with [source: Squires and Meo].

This Mafia-backed wind power extends beyond Italy, with Italian wind developers looking to source turbines and equipment to other regions of Europe.