2019-03-21

BERLIN - "They described men arriving in Berlin with briefcases full of cash, wanting to buy land, buildings, restaurants". Bernd Finger, former chief investigator of the BKA in Berlin told us regarding statements he received from the Treuhandgesellschaft (the DDR trust company), during the nineties. "Everything was legal at the time, nobody could have known or suspected that this money was there to be laundered”.

Thanks to the European Cross-border Grant, we uncovered how the Italian Mafia made business on the debris of the Berlin Wall.

While the angry eastern Germans were marching to the Bornholmer Straße border crossing in November of 1989, things were starting to move almost two thousand kilometres away from Berlin. 

“Kaufen, kaufen, kaufen” they were saying from Sicily to a Mafia associate in West Berlin. 

The order was just a smart business move, made by the modern day Mafia - a business decision. The Mafia knew that those buildings, restaurant and land were going to drastically rise in value within years, months and buying would be an easy transaction;  a safe way to launder cash which was becoming harder to pump in the flow of Italy’s clean economy due to new and harsher Italian laws.

This is the story of how the Italian mafias grew roots in Germany and how the Fall of the DDR and the Treuhandgesellschaft were key assets for them.

Sabrina Pignedoli

Sabrina Pignedoli is an Italian investigate journalist specialised in crime and judiciary news.

Ambra Montanari

Ambra Montana is a freelance journalist based in Berlin.

Supported
A grant of €6,537 was allocated on 20 November 2017.
ID
JF/OSF16A11/432

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