More news from Sicily as the predecessor of First Wind -- Hawaii’s largest windfarm developer continues to generate multi-million dollar mafia property seizures and arrests.
Starting with a reprise of our coverage from last year, and linking to news from the Italia media over the last few days, we have highlighted the key names which link First Wind/UPC/IVPC and the Italian mafia. Why is this not news in Hawaii? Because First Wind’s local partner is Kamehameha Schools.
Hawaii Wind Developer tied to Largest-ever asset seizure by anti-Mafia police
HFP 3/28/2011: Paul Gaynor, CEO of First Wind stood comfortably with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, Rep Mazie Hirono, and HECO CEO Dick Rosenblum at the grand opening of the Kahuku Wind energy project on Oahu’s North Shore Thursday. As he should.
First Wind–formerly known as UPC Wind--got its start in wind energy by launching Italy’s IVPC--a company now subject to a record breaking asset seizure by Italian police. The Financial Times September 14, 2010 explains:
Italian anti-mafia police have made their largest seizure of assets as part of an investigation into windfarm contracts in Sicily. Officers confiscated property and accounts valued at €1.5bn belonging to a businessman suspected of having links with the mafia.
Roberto Maroni, interior minister, on Tuesday accused the businessman – identified by police as Vito Nicastri and known as the island’s “lord of the winds” – of being close to a fugitive mafia boss, Matteo Messina Denaro.
General Antonio Mirone, of the anti-mafia police, said the seized assets included 43 companies – some with foreign participation and mostly in the solar and windpower sector – as well as about 100 plots of land, villas and warehouses, luxury cars and a catamaran. More than 60 bank accounts were frozen.
Until his arrest last November, Mr Nicastri, based in the inland hill town of Alcamo, was Sicily’s largest developer of windfarms, arranging purchases of land, financing and official permits. Some projects were sold through intermediaries to foreign renewable energy companies attracted to Italy by generous subsidy schemes….
The renewable energy sector is under scrutiny across much of southern Italy. Some windfarms, built with official subsidies, have never functioned….
Mr Nicastri sold most of his windfarm projects to IVPC, a company near Naples run by Oreste Vigorito, also president of Italy’s windpower association. Mr Vigorito was also arrested last November on suspicion of fraud and later released. He denied wrongdoing.
read … About Reality for a Change
Sicilian judges freeze Mafia money in Valletta-based company
From Mafia Today December 17, 2012
Wind energy company held in Valletta fiduciary company targeted by Palermo investigators hunting Mafia boss of bosses.
Sicilian anti-mafia judges have issued a freezing order on assets and money registered under a Valletta-based company which investigations have revealed to be connected to one of the world’s most wanted mafia bosses, Matteo Messina Denaro.
Known to be the current ‘boss of bosses’ to Sicily’s notorious ‘Cosa Nostra’, Denaro was always considered to be the Mafia’s most prolific financial brain, who invested and laundered billions of drug and extortion money all over the world, including Malta on various occasions.
On the run for the past 25 years, Denaro has this week hit the headlines in Italy for his connections to the highly lucrative sector of renewable energy.
Months of investigations in Palermo have yielded Denaro’s links to Sicily’s wind farm energy, through a series of companies which generate governmental contracts, and money which is then funneled through an elaborate scheme of financial transactions, and eventually end up in a company registered to an address in Archbishop Street, in Valletta.
Investigators from Sicily’s anti-mafia pool of magistrates have identified Eryngium as the Maltese company which was allegedly the recipient of such financial transactions, and ordered an immediate freeze of an estimated €1.3 million in assets.
According to the investigators, the company was created by a “mastermind” in financial and economic affairs, identified as Messina University head of the faculty of economics, Professor. Melo Martella, who has been served with a warrant for his arrest.
Others said to be connected to Eryngium and its mother-company Eryngium Holdings Limited – also registered in Malta – is Nino Scimemi from the town of Salemi, and Vito Nicastri from Alcamo, who earned himself the nickname as ‘king of the wind’ for his involvement in a number of wind farms around the Italian peninsula, and who is at the centre of a number of investigations by police for his role in illicit business.
* * * * *
Italy: Green Energy Tied To Sicilian Superboss
12-07-2012: Italian authorities have arrested six individuals and seized assets worth 10 million euros or $13 million in connection with "a probe into suspected Mafia infiltration of renewable-energy facilities in western Sicily whose proceeds are believed to have gone to fugitive Cosa Nostra head Matteo Messina Denaro" as reported by ANSA.
The solar plants and wind farms are ubiquitous throughout southern Italy, and the Sicilian Mafia has exploited many of these green companies both to siphon government subsidies and launder dirty money as reported by Stephan Faris for Time.
Sicilian-mobster-turned-supergrass Antonio Birrittella claims "the modern Mafia has reinvented itself as a 'white collar' organization," and become involved with "the development of wind farms and renewable energy . . . through a combination of shell companies and the infiltration of regional bodies which distribute the subsidies" as reported by Gail Champion for BBC News.
* * * * *
Wind energy: Calabria indicted former official region and Vigorito
June 7, 2012: "A former official of the department of activities 'production of the Calabria Region, Carmelo Misiti, and the legal representatives of the companies' IVPC Power3 and Power4 IVPC, Gianpietro Sanseverino and Oreste Vigorito, were indicted by a court of Catanzaro, Anthony Rizzuto, in a investigation into the construction of the wind farm Caraffa. The process will begin 'on November 30. E 'was acquitted former regional official Giuseppe Ferraro "