Dirty Money in Prague: The Italian Job
Video & News
Video & News
The most luxurious real estates in the historical center of Prague are, according to Italian detectives, being used to launder money. It's come to light thanks to the investigation of mafia organization 'Ndrangheta. The key figure in this business seems to be a 62-year-old real estates broker Claudio Leo Personnettaz.
The fact that the most exclusive Prague real estate is being traded by Italians is common knowledge. However, rumors about Mafia activity in Czech Republic and neighboring Slovakia have been surfacing.
Italian detectives are now according to MF DNES investigation connecting the dots between cases. They've come up with a bold hypothesis: business with luxurious houses in the center of Prague is a cover-up for illegal money dealings and laundering. All of this is being attributed to the most infamous man connected to the 'Ndrangheta mafia organization in Northern Italy, in the region of Valle d'Aosta.
The 62-year-old, Claudio Leo Personnettaz is in the Czech Republic nearly unknown, however, he's been trading real estates in Prague for nearly 30 years and functions as a manager in over 30 firms administrating priceless real estates in the historical center of Prague. Examples of such estates are Paris Avenue (Pařížská ulice) and house in the Prague Metro (dům na Národní třídě).
Italian prosecutor position has Personnetaz attained under different circumstances. In September 2016, he's visited Morroco for three days. Accompanied by two men under the investigation on charges of being involved with 'Ndrangheta mafia. Personnettaz fully paid their plane tickets and expenses.
Man with connections
One of the men was a prosecutor from Aosta, Pasquale Longarini. The other was culinary businessman Gerardo Cuomo, who was the right-hand man of the prosecutor. He'd allegedly cater to any of his requests, may it be personal affairs or even work-related. Prosecutor had warned him that his phones might have been tapped because of his contact with the 'Ndrangheta organization. Even members of mafia organization have talked about procurator himself as a man with many connections. Both of these men have been prosecuted by the Italian police which had led them to Personnetaz himself, the man that had sponsored their trip to Morocco.
Personnetaz has been the main focus of the police ever since. Police believe that the companies which Personnetaz controls are used for money laundering schemes. "The assets used for real estate sales are originating from provisions and tax evasions perpetrated by the Italian citizens, and that in a way as to hide their illegality," cited Giovanni Polizzi, the head detective of the investigation, for the Italian daily mail 'La Stampa'.
For better understanding: money, with which Personnetaz invests are obtained illegally claims the Italian police. The businessman is also in contact with mafia and prosecutor that repeatedly helped him and shielded him from the investigation and is prosecuted for it. Personnetaz claims they're both his personal friends and paid them only for a "business trip" to Africa. Police believe that might have been one of the rewards for their loyal service.
MF DNES tried to contact Personnetaz through the Dedalo company, in which Personnetaz acts as the CEO. "Mr Personnetaz has left for Italy. And he's uncertain if he's allowed to comment since the investigation hasn't been concluded," stated his personal assistant.