Official society offers an “entrepreneurial opportunity” to organised criminals, Middlesex University’s Prof Vincenzo Ruggiero told a seminar audience at SOAS University of London last week.
It is not that the Mafia has penetrated London but that London has become permeable to the Mafia, he said.
The professor was the invited expert on the panel at the event “City of Mafia” - chaired by the Italian political party Sinistra, Ecologia, Libertà - where the spread of organised crime across Europe was discussed.
Prof Ruggiero, whose area of academic expertise and interest is “crime committed by powerful people”, said organised crime groups can enter a market through force if they believe they have more firepower than any other group there but, more often than not, they form partnerships with those in the mainstream economy to legitimise their dealings.
“It’s not the Mafioso that teaches the entrepreneur how to be a criminal but the entrepreneur who teaches the Mafioso how to become a white collar criminal,” he said, adding that, in the example of the UK’s biggest robberies – the Brink’s MAT robbery and Knightsbridge security deposit robbery - some of the money was given to businessmen. “This is official society offering a service, an entrepreneurial opportunity, to criminals.”
Professor Ruggiero was joined on the panel by members of Flare, a European network which promotes the struggle of civil society against organised crime and a Sinistra, Ecologia, Libertà party member from Sicily, who recounted how the Mafia operated in his region.
Professor Ruggiero is the Director of the Crime and Conflict Research Centre at Middlesex University and has written extensively on political violence, organised crime, economic and financial crime and power and violence.