Europol warns about a secret Chinese bank laundering billions of euros in Italy

China Secret Bank Italy

In Italy, there is a secret Chinese bank with ghost branches in Rome, Florence, Padua, Prato, Naples and Reggio Calabria, which launders billions of euros into China. This underground bank offers special services for special clients such as drug dealers, tax-evading Italian businessmen, Russian oligarchs or super-rich Chinese.

Italian investigators call this bank ‘China underground bank’ (Chinese underground bank), beginning with those of the Finance Guard (Fiscal Police), who have been the first to understand that something very strange was happening in Italy. Now Europol has also taken note and has launched an alert to all police forces in the European Union. An investigation by ‘La Repubblica’ tells it. It is no longer just “individual suspicious transactions”, not even small transfers from the Chinese sending money back to the mother country, the fruit of money laundering from the illegal Chinese economy in Italy. What actually happens is that in Italy an organized and complex system operates underground, starting at a ‘counter’ in this country and reaching the other side of the world. Probably, thanks to a single management that could also have Chinese state coverage, which is being investigated.

Without a trace

The secret bank ‘made in China’ is capable of laundering billions of dollars without leaving a trace (up to 2,000 million euros a year). It is a river of money that reaches the current accounts of the big Chinese state banks, such as The Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, China Citic Bank, and China Construction Bank. It is estimated that more than 15,000 million euros (with a low estimate) coming from Italy, through triangulations between shell companies from Slovenia, Bulgaria and especially Hungary, the latter having become a fifth pillar of the Chinese economy in Europe, have arrived in recent years in the branches of the state led by Xi Jinping. The numbers are impressive, so much so that an ‘ad hoc’ unit has been created in the central command of the Italian Finance Guard, explains ‘Repubblica’.

The Chinese clandestine bank is used by drug traffickers linked to the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta, businessmen from much of northeast Italy, Russian oligarchs who are unable to make visible purchases in Italy after sanctions over the war in Ukraine, and the super-rich Chinese who want to go shopping in luxury stores on the great streets of Italian fashion, in cities like Milan, Rome, Florence or Venice. Both the ‘Ndrangheta, which controls most of the cocaine drug trade, and the Camorra, target Chinese clandestine banks in order to deliver cash to make payments abroad, especially in South America.

Some data from the ‘Repubblica’ investigation is confirmed by the recent annual report of the Italian Intelligence services on tax evasion and money laundering, pointing out that “unscrupulous” Italian businessmen work illegally to “consolidate their position within some economic sectors national, also through a systematic location in well-defined territorial areas. One of those areas is the northeast of Italy. These unscrupulous businessmen turn to the Chinese clandestine bank because they have capital from evasion and want to launder it quickly before the Italian tax police poke their noses into their business.

Huge profits

In exchange for the illegal operations carried out by the Chinese clandestine bank, its executives charge percentages of the amounts they move. These are huge profits that, obviously, must return in large part to the mother country. It is an obligation of Beijing. The existence of this Chinese bank explains a strange phenomenon that the Bank of Italy has registered in the last ten years: the collapse of official remittances from the Chinese in Italy to China. «From 5,000 million euros in 2017, it has gone down to only 9 million in 2021. A figure that goes against all social and economic logic: because the order in Beijing has not changed and the profits of Chinese companies and small businesses in Italy must not be reinvested here; but above all, because the number of Chinese self-employed entrepreneurs in Italy has almost tripled in the last ten years”, explains ‘Repubblica’. This collapse of Chinese remittances is inexplicable. They almost disappeared.

The case will go to the Italian Parliament. The spokesman for Green Europe, Angelo Bonelli. He stated: “The existence of a secret Chinese bank with branches in Italy is intolerable. I will ask the government what initiatives it intends to take to eliminate it.”