Italy Activates Anti-Mafia Agency to Investigate Chinese Infiltration

International Desk
Italy Activates Anti-Mafia Agency to Investigate Chinese Infiltration

Italy Activates Anti-Mafia Agency to Investigate Chinese Infiltration

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Italy’s government has activated the Italian Anti-Mafia Commission to investigate and clean up the Chinese Communist infiltration in Italian society and collusion with officials and gangsters to manipulate illegal activities organized by Chinese gangsters. The Commission also investigates China’s overseas police stations, Chinese truck cases, and underground banks.

The Mysterious Bank

According to a report by the Italian news magazine Le Formiche on March 16, the Florence court has arrested two Chinese people involved in illegal money launching. In addition, 13 people were listed as suspects. The case involved a secretive Chinese bank with branches in Rome, Florence, Prato and other places that transferred billions of euros to China. Italian investigators dubbed the bank a “Chinese underground bank.”

The “bank” provides a hidden remittance service and charges 2.5 per cent of the transfer amount as a commission. There are mainly two ways to transfer money – small amounts transfers from one or more credit cards to an account through apps such as WeChat or Alipay.

Larger amounts are prepaid to the “underground bank” designated by the customer through the account and bank card opened in China, and then the cash is withdrawn at the branches of the underground bank in Florence and Prato and then transferred to other Chinese to be shipped back to China in other ways.

Prato, near Florence, has a concentration of textile and accessories factories and is also a city inhabited by Chinese in Italy. The Italian police discovered that this city has become a stronghold for illegal infiltration by the Chinese underworld.

The “Chinese Mafia” in Italy

The crime of money laundering run by the “Chinese Mafia” in Italy has a long history. In December 2014, the AFP news agency quoted the Roman police as saying that some Chinese business owners and businessmen sent income from smuggling and selling counterfeit products and tax evasion to China through a British financial company named Sigue.

Sigue has seven branches in Rome, mainly engaged in the remittance business of local Chinese people. Most of the remittances use false names, some are fabricated, and there are names of the deceased, and there are even customers who do not know.

The official banks of the Chinese Communist Party are involved in these illegal operations. In June 2015, the Italian Prosecutor submitted an indictment against 297 people and the Bank of China to the court. Bank of China’s Italian branch was accused of assisting Italian Chinese in money laundering. The 297 people included 4 Bank of China’s Milan branch senior managers. The Florence police found that in less than four years, as of 2010, more than 4.5 billion euros from fraud, prostitution, labour exploitation and tax evasion were transferred to China through remittance services. Among them, 2.2 billion euros were remitted through the Milan branch of the Bank of China.

The Italian prosecutors’ indictment is based on an investigation started in 2008 called “Money River” that the money was sent to China through a remittance intermediary called Money2Money, from which the Bank of China received a middle fee of 758,000 euros. Prosecutors have sought help from the Chinese authorities but to no avail. The Italian authorities restarted the Anti-Mafia Committee this time, with an obvious goal of targeting the infiltration of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China Set up Highest Number of Overseas Police Stations

According to a survey published by the Spanish human rights group Safeguard Defenders in December 2022, China had established 54 police stations worldwide by September 2021 and added 48 “overseas police and overseas Chinese service stations”.

“In name, it is to assist the Chinese overseas Chinese in administrative affairs. It uses the bilateral security agreement signed with the host country to set up a “police station” to monitor Chinese overseas Chinese and wait for opportunities to repatriate dissidents. Giuseppe Morabito, Director of the NATO Defence Academy Foundation (NDCF), told to L’Espresso, an Italian weekly news magazine, on 19 December 2022 that Italy has the most overseas police bases set up by the CCP, with 11.

At present, Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Sicily, and Prato, the city with the largest Chinese community in Italy, all have so-called “service stations” by the CCP’s overseas police. According to a report by RFI in December 2022, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi stated that sanctions against the CCP’s illegal actions in Italy would not be ruled out. Italy has not authorized the CCP regime to care about police affairs.

Indian American Ajay Banga takes over as World Bank President

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Indian American Ajay Banga on Friday took over as the President of the World Bank, making him the first person of colour to head either of the two global financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. On May 3, the Executive Directors of the World Bank selected Banga, 63, as the 14th President of the World Bank for a five-year term.

In February, President Joe Biden announced that the US would nominate Banga to lead the World Bank.

"Join us in welcoming Ajay Banga as the new President of the World Bank Group. We are committed to creating a world free from poverty on a livable planet," the World Bank said in a tweet with a picture of Banga entering the bank headquarters here on Friday.

"I wish Ajay Banga all the best as he takes up his new role as President of the World Bank today. I look forward to continuing the deep partnership between our institutions to do good and help those most in need," IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva said in a tweet.

Banga has become the first-ever Indian-American to head the World Bank. He replaces David Malpass, who announced his decision to step down in February.

Banga most recently served as Vice Chairman at General Atlantic. Previously, he was President and CEO of Mastercard, a global organization with nearly 24,000 employees.

Under his leadership, MasterCard launched the Center for Inclusive Growth, which advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. He was the Honorary Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, serving as Chairman from 2020-2022.

He became an advisor to General Atlantic's climate-focused fund, BeyondNetZero, at its inception in 2021. Banga served as Co-Chair of the Partnership for Central America, a coalition of private organizations that works to advance economic opportunity across underserved populations in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

He was previously on the Boards of the American Red Cross, Kraft Foods, and Dow Inc.

Banga is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute and was Vice Chair of the Economic Club of New York. He was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012, the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the Business Council for International Understanding's Global Leadership Award in 2019, and the Distinguished Friends of Singapore Public Service Star in 2021.

On Thursday, Treasury Yellen met with Banga at the Treasury Department. During their engagement, Yellen warmly welcomed Banga's upcoming presidency and conveyed her strong desire for the Treasury to continue close collaboration with him in building on the strong progress made so far on evolving multilateral development banks (MDBs), a media release said.

That includes continuing implementation of the recommendations of the G20 Capital Adequacy Framework review to get the most out of the Bank's balance sheet, and improving and increasing the amount of private capital mobilised for our shared global development objectives and refining the operating model to increase the responsiveness and agility of the bank, it said.

Yellen also reiterated the importance of the World Bank working more closely with its sister development banks.

Yellen stressed the need to support the poorest of the Bank's member countries as they continue to face multiple crises, including continuing global macroeconomic headwinds exacerbated by Russia's war in Ukraine.

Yellen underscored that she looks forward to having Banga's experienced leadership and proven management skills at the helm of this critical multilateral institution during a period of significant global challenge and opportunity, the statement said.

Source: Economic Times


India positive on Brics expansion, but seeks wider consultations

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India sought wider consultations among all the stakeholders and expressed positive support for China’s proposal to expand Brics, said officials aware of the matter. The two agendas at the Brics summit in South Africa included plans to expand the membership of Brics, and a common currency.

The Brics grouping is not only an expression of multipolarity but of the many ways of meeting international challenges, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Friday, asserting that the five-nation bloc is an “established feature” of the global landscape. Addressing the Friends of BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting, Jaishankar stated that the message of reform that Brics embodies must permeate the world of multilateralism.

“Brics is no longer an ‘alternative’, it is an established feature of the global landscape,” he tweeted-.He said the five-nation grouping comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa is not only an expression of multipolarity but of the many and diverse ways of meeting international challenges.

“Its focus is on building a fairer, inclusive and open international architecture with sustainable development at its core. “Creating resilient and reliable supply chains is central to ensuring that no one is left behind,” he tweeted. Jaishankar said the ‘Friends of BRICS’ strongly support the reform of the United Nations Security Council.

Source: Economic Times


Odisha train tragedy: World leaders extend support to India, condole loss of lives

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The accident, involving three trains, is one of the worst in the country and took place in Odisha's Balasore district on Friday night. It injured 803 people.

World leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emanuel Macron, expressed their condolences to the families and the Government of India on Saturday over one of the country's worst train accidents that killed at least 288 people.

The accident, involving three trains, is one of the worst in the country and took place in Odisha's Balasore district on Friday night. The accident also injured 803 people.

Russian President Putin expressed his condolences in a telegram to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Please accept our deep condolences over the tragic aftermath of the train collision in Odisha. We share the grief of those who lost their relatives and close ones in this catastrophe and we hope for a speedy recovery to everyone injured," says the telegram, published on the Kremlin’s website.

UK Prime Minister Sunak extended his heartfelt support and admiration to the survivors and those working tirelessly in the rescue operations.

“My thoughts and prayers are with @narendramodi and with all affected by the tragic events in Odisha. My deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed, and my heartfelt support and admiration to the survivors and those working tirelessly to respond,” Sunak tweeted.

President Macron said France stands in solidarity with India.

“My deepest condolences to President Murmu, Prime Minister Modi and the people of India after the tragic train accident in Odisha. France stands in solidarity with you. My thoughts are with the families of the victims,” Macron tweeted.

Chinese President Xi sent separate condolence messages to President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Modi over the train accident, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

In his message, Xi said he was shocked to learn of the accident which caused heavy casualties.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, he expressed deep condolences to the victims, offered sincere sympathies to the bereaved families and the injured, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang also sent a message of condolence to Prime Minister Modi.

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida sent a condolence message to Prime Minister Modi following the train accident.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of the loss of many precious lives and the injuries in the train accident in the State of Odisha. On behalf of the Government of Japan and its people, I would like to express our heartfelt condolences to those who lost their lives and their bereaved families. I also pray for the speedy recovery of those who were injured," Kishida said in a statement.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi also sent a condolence message to Foreign Minister S Jaishankar.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of the loss of many precious lives in the train accident in the State of Odisha. I pray for the souls of the victims and extend my deepest condolences to the bereaved families. I also sincerely hope that those who were injured will recover swiftly," Hayashi said.

Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said at this difficult time, Canadians are standing with the people of India.

"The images and reports of the train crash in Odisha, India break my heart. I’m sending my deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones, and I’m keeping the injured in my thoughts. At this difficult time, Canadians are standing with the people of India,” Trudeau tweeted.

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', who is on a four-day visit to India, tweeted, “I’m saddened by the loss of dozens of lives in a train accident in Odisha, India today. I extend deep condolences to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi Ji, Government, and the bereaved families in this hour of grief.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended condolences to the families of the victims and wished speedy recovery to those injured in the accident.

“Deeply saddened by the loss of hundreds of lives in a train accident in India. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. Prayers for a speedy recovery of the injured,” Sharif tweeted.

"Saddened to learn of the high death toll in the tragic train accident in Odisha, India. Our condolences for the families of the victims. Wish speedy recovery to the injured," Pakistan foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said that he is “deeply saddened” to learn about the train accident in Odisha. He wished for a speedy recovery for all those affected in the accident.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic train accident in Odisha. My thoughts & prayers are with the families of the victims & those injured. I hope for a speedy recovery for all those affected. Sri Lanka stands with India in this time of grief,” Ali Sabry tweeted.

Bhutan's Prime Minister Lotay Tshering tweeted, "Sending prayers to @narendramodi and the people of India as we hear developments of the tragic train crash in Odisha. May the loved ones find strength, as they come to terms with the loss and horror. We share your pain and pray for quick healing."

The Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani also expressed condolences on the train tragedy.

"The Italian Government expresses deep condolences to #India for the tragic train accident that occurred today in Balasore. A prayer for the victims and the injured, I hope that those still trapped will be rescued," Tajani tweeted.

UN General Assembly president Csaba Korosi too expressed his deepest condolences to the families over the tragic train accident.

“I’m deeply saddened to hear the news of the train crash in Odisha, India. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and with the emergency services. Heartfelt condolences to the people and the Government of India,” Korosi, the President of the 77th session of the General Assembly tweeted.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen also extended heartfelt condolences to the victims.

"Taiwan Praying for everyone affected by the train accident in India. I extend my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, and hope that rescue operations can save all those in need," she tweeted.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid on Friday condoled the loss of lives in the accident.

“Deeply saddened to hear the news of the tragic train accident in Odisha, #India, leading to loss of lives and injuries to many. My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and praying for a speedy recovery to the injured,” he said in a tweet.

Source: Hindustan Times


China Investing in Open-Source Intelligence Collection on the U.S.

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A new report outlines Chinese efforts to mine public information from the Pentagon, think tanks and private companies to gain insight on the American military.

China’s intelligence agencies are investing deeply in open-source intelligence to learn more about the capabilities of the American military in the Pacific and beyond, according to a new report.

The analysis, by the threat intelligence company Recorded Future, details efforts by China’s government and companies to collect publicly available data from the Pentagon, think tanks and private firms — information Beijing’s military can use to help plan for a potential conflict with the United States.

ImageAmerican service members wearing green uniforms and headphones inside the cockpit a Navy plane, with lots of screens and controls.

Why It Matters: Beijing’s open-source intelligence collection could give it an advantage.

As the relationship between the United States and China has become more adversarial, both countries are investing more in their intelligence collection capabilities.

With Beijing’s investments in big data management, mining publicly available sources of information could give China an advantage in collecting intelligence on the United States and its allies.

While autocratic countries like China hide information about their military, the United States — as a democracy that tries to be responsive to its public — puts out a plethora of information about its military capabilities, doctrine and planning.

China can mine that information, looking for material it can use to its own military advantages. For example, the report details some of the work one prominent Chinese open-source intelligence company has done to analyze publicly available insights from the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon’s in-house think tank. Recorded Future also outlined how China has tried to gather information put out by the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

“The U.S. Naval War College has a China Maritime Studies Institute, and it produces a lot of open-source research on China,” said Zoe Haver, a threat intelligence analyst with Recorded Future. “This is done in an academic setting, but ultimately foreign governments consider this valuable intelligence.”

Military officials did not immediately comment on the report’s findings.

Background: China is mining information on the U.S. military.
China’s secret intelligence-gathering abilities have grown in leaps and bounds in recent decades, and Beijing’s investment in open-source information has intensified over the last decade.

The definition of open-source intelligence is broad, but Recorded Future looked at information that the intelligence agencies of China’s People’s Liberation Army were using to help them make plans and develop the military.

Recorded Future has examined contracts that the army has issued to private Chinese companies to gather a range of open-source information, including material about the U.S. military and its work on the defense of Taiwan.

“The P.L.A. very much assumes the United States will in some form intervene in a Taiwan conflict, and they work very hard to prepare for that type of scenario,” Ms. Haver said.

Much of what Beijing is mining from open-source data may well be available in one Chinese spy agency or another. But China’s intelligence agencies are walled off from one another and do not share information, according to Recorded Future’s analysts. And it may be easier for parts of the P.L.A.’s intelligence arms to develop open-source information about American capabilities than to request classified information from a sister spy agency.

What’s Next: Open-source collection presents a challenge for democracies.
Recorded Future acknowledges there are security concerns given the information the United States and its allies make public, but cutting off broad access to the data may not be the answer.

Instead, Ms. Haver said Recorded Future hoped awareness of Chinese open-source intelligence gathering would help private-sector companies, the military and other government agencies better manage that risk and make it harder for automatic web crawlers to scrape information from public databases or websites. She also encouraged private companies to conduct due diligence about Chinese firms trying to purchase access to their information.

“At the end of the day, we don’t expect Western countries to close off their information environments,” Ms. Haver said. “That would not even be a good thing. We value openness.”

Source: New York Times