(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — When someone who has spent more than a decade exposing the criminal underbelly of the Italian mafia calls a country the “most corrupt on earth,” it’s time to sit up and listen. This is precisely what happened in the U.K. this week during a world-renowned mafia expert’s rare and historic appearance at a literary festival.
Author and journalist Roberto Saviano has lived under police protection since he publicly spilled the beans on Italy’s gangsters in 2006. In the eyes of the gangs, the 36-year-old’s crime is his best-selling book, Gomorrah, which exposes the Camorra, the Mafia of Naples. According to Saviano, the network of criminal gangs dwarfs the original Mafia of Sicily and other organised gangs, both in economic power and ruthless violence.
In 2015, the U.K. ranked 10th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which measures perceived levels of corruption worldwide. However, Saviano disagrees with this assessment. Flanked by a heavy security presence at Hay-on-Wye literary festival, he told the audience why:
“If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me well it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy and I will tell you it’s the U.K.”
“It’s not the bureaucracy, it’s not the police, it’s not the politics but what is corrupt is the financial capital. Ninety per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.”
Going on to accuse Jersey and the Cayman Islands of being the access gates to criminal capital in Europe, he said this is because the U.K. is allowing it. “That is why it is important, why it is so crucial for me to be here today and to talk to you because I want to tell you this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government,” he added.
Weighing in on the E.U referendum, Saviano claimed “Brexit,” the term for the U.K.’s exit from the European-wide government, will give the green light to corruption. “It means allowing the Qatari societies, the Mexican cartels, the Russia Mafia to gain even more power and HSBC has paid £2 billion Euros in fines to the US government, because it confessed that it had laundered money coming from the cartels and the Iranian companies,” he said.
“We have proof, we have evidence,” Saviano added.
The world-renowned mafia expert’s comments come in the wake of revelations from the Panama Papers that Prime Minister David Cameron benefited from an offshore fund set up by his late father. His accusations also echo the findings of a 2015 Private Eye investigation that revealed over £100 billion worth of property in London was snapped up by wealthy investors, some using shadowy offshore companies linked to money laundering and tax evasion. Two-thirds of the purchases were made by companies registered in four “British” tax havens — Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and the British Virgin Islands.
The beautiful irony of Britain being labelled “the most corrupt place on earth” will not be lost on many, particularly in light of David Cameron’s recent embarrassment after he was caught on camera describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt.”
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