CRIME IN PRATO: A spokesman for Italy’s Financial Guard confirmed that the Guard and the Florentine prosecutor’s office have closed their preliminary investigation in the 2010 case that saw 287 suspects — Chinese and Italian, all connected to the garment industry — rounded up for ties to a Mafia-related money-laundering scheme based in Prato.

Prato, long known as the heart of Tuscany’s textile industry, has changed dramatically over the last decade, with many garment businesses now run by Chinese immigrants, which has created cultural tension in the region.

This story first appeared in the June 5, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

According to reports, between 2006 and 2010 the suspects moved 4.5 billion euros, or about $5.8 billion at current exchange, earned off the books to China. To avoid detection, the suspects allegedly made wire transfers in relatively low amounts: many were in 1,999-euro, or $2,608, increments, just below the 2,000-euro, or $2,610, mark that sets off automatic controls at Italian banks. The case has received widespread publicity in Italy and led to a major crackdown on corruption in Prato’s textile sector, the Guard spokesman said.

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