Police in Florence wondered where all the money was going. Italy’s economy was heading off a cliff, but its Chinatowns were booming. Luxury cars snaked past Chinese betting parlors and garment factories that hummed into the night. Chinese immigrants were buying up Italian coffee bars and real estate. But their prosperity was not reflected in local tax records.
“What do they do with the money?” said Pietro Suchan, then deputy public prosecutor in Florence. “Do they eat it?”
The answer, after a four-year investigation by Italy’s financial police, was no. They discovered that more than 4.5 billion euros ($4.9 billion) — the proceeds of counterfeiting, prostitution, labor exploitation and tax evasion — had been smuggled out of Italy to China in less than four years using a money-transfer service. Nearly half that money was funneled through one of China’s largest state banks, the Bank of China, which earned more than 758,000 euros in commissions on the transfers, according to Italian investigative documents obtained by The Associated Press. Italian officials said that when they tried to appeal to Chinese authorities for help, they got nowhere.
The original article can be found at news.yahoo.com