Mafia turns gold into Italy's fastest growing export

With gold hitting a record high in the European currency last week Agence France Presse has a look at how the Mafia is cashing in as hard-up Italians – hurt by the prolonged European debt crisis and economic austerity measures – flog their jewellery at the hundreds of cash-for-gold shops that have sprung up on Italy's high streets in recent months:

Much of the gold eventually makes its way across the Alps to Switzerland — whether legally or smuggled across the border — making gold Italy's fastest growing export and Switzerland an increasingly prominent market for Italy.

Custom seizures of gold are up 50 percent, officials say, with one of the latest cases a father and daughter arrested trying to squirrel out 50 kilos (110 pounds) of the metal worth over two million euros in unmarked ingots.

"It's a booming sector for criminal organisations. Smuggled gold ends up all over the world, in countries where it is swapped for arms, drugs, you name it," said Ranieri Razzante, head of AIRA, an anti-money laundering watchdog.

Continue reading at Agence France Presse.