ROME – An Italian senior police official has revealed that criminal organizations in the country are still using the currency of the pre-Euro period for illicit transactions, the Bloomberg news agency reported.
According to the agency, the lira exchange rate is not known for euros or if it exists, however the police say they still find bills linked to the mafia. The lira ceased to be a legal tender at the end of February 2002 due to the introduction of the euro, the single European currency.
“We have still found large amounts of lire,” said Giuseppe Arbore, a finance guard police officer investigating financial crimes, during a parliamentary hearing on Thursday. “Italian lire still represents part of the illicit transactions.”
“When a ballot is accepted by an organization internally, even if it is outlawed as a legal value, it can settle transactions. We are obviously talking about illegal organizations,” Arbore said.
While the use of a parallel Lira shows that another world is possible, in no way is this meant to condone the whole range of illicit activities engaged in by the mafia.
These revelations follow a day of speculation and criticism of a proposal by members of the party’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini to issue new small-denomination titles to pay state bills. There are those worried that this could be the first step towards a parallel currency, and even a way out of the eurozone.
Although it is only an idea, it is already being criticized by Finance Minister Giovanni Tria and his compatriot Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Both said that would increase the country’s debt and would be illegal if used as a parallel currency.
This is not the first time that the Mafia is related to the old Italian currency. In 2012, the report of the Central Bank’s Financial Information Unit revealed that it worked with the Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate on “suspicious transaction reports” related to the lira-euro exchange rate.
The Italian state has not said how it will fight off this criminality.