Mafia In Africa

The Italian mafia has established a hidden but lethal presence in Africa.  Its members own diamond mines, nightclubs and land, all with the complicity of corrupt regimes.

Main Article

Cosa Nostra Diamonds

Diamonds are the most concentrated form of wealth of the world, and the perfect means for the Italian mafia money laundering. What has the Sicilian Mafia done over the last four years to secure diamonds from Subsaharan Africa?

Africa: is Cosa Nostra / Cosa Nostra AG

Palazzolo is Cosa Nostra’s most able banker. He evaded just for almost three decades and today sits in an Italian prison. He started talking to prosecutors and he might reveal secrets that will shake entire States. He was a modern Midas: all that he touched turns to gold. Starting in Germany, he quickly moved on to Switzerland, and then South Africa. How big is Palazzolo’s economic empire? And who manages it now that he is behind bars?

Charter House Bank: a money laundering machine

Charterhouse Bank was used to launder massive amounts of dirty money. Among the names listed as CHB money launderers is Paolo Sattanino, an Italian who denies any involvement in the scheme. IRPI reporters have travelled to Kenya to discover more.

Kenya’s Safe Haven

Mario Mele is an Italian entrepreneur accused of evading €17 million in Italian taxes. He owns Pata Pata, an exclusive nightclub in Malindi. When the Fiscal Guard checked Mele’s bank accounts, agents found an invoice issued by a company owned by the ruthless Sicilian mafia clan D’Agosta. What is the connection between the entrepreneur and the criminal organization?

Kenya’s Drug Barons

June 2011. The United States President Barack Obama signs the Kingpin Act. Among the blacklisted is John Harun Mwau. The Kingpin Act is only a part of a larger picture, of which Mwau is a key character. What emerges is a Kenyan oligarc, fostered by votes and drug trafficking since the year 2000. Nevertheless a political twist in Kenya, Mwau enjoys complete impunity.


Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI), Quattrogatti, ANCIR, CORRECT!V, ANCIR iLab
EUR 28,000 (IRPI & Quattrogatti), USD 10,000 (ANCIR) with support from Open Society West Africa (OSIWA)
Innovative Journalism Grant, Journalism Fund
Media Outlet:
Correct!v, Mail&Guardian, L’Espresso, ilfattoquotidiano.itBivol
Release Date:
April 2015
Italy, United Kingdom, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Russia BVI, Malta, Hong Kong
iLab Team:
Giulio Rubino, Lorenzo Bagnoli, Cecilia Anesi, Heinrich Bohmke, Khadija Sharife, Lorenzo Bodrero, John Grobler, Craig Shaw, Atanas Tchobanov, Florian Bickmeyer (investigators & writers), Ariel Hauptmeier (writer) David Schraven (editor) Stefan Wehrmeyer (coder) Stefano Gurciullo (data-science) Davide Mancino (infographics)
Data Tools:
Investigative Dashboard (via Heinrich Bohmke, Khadija Sharife, Cecilia Anesi, Giulio Rubino, Stefano Gurciullo, Atanas Tchobanov); Orbis, Companies House, Windeed, Deeds offices and others, Gephi, Python.

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