Italian authorities have seized more than 1 billion euros from five siblings who allegedly used Mafia connections to expand their business. The group had previously testified against another Cosa Nostra family.
A family of Italian entrepreneurs described by the local media as the "kings of concrete" have had 1.6 bilion euros (1.76 billion dollars) of their assets seized by police after they were accused of having close ties with the Sicilian Mafia, despite having previously been praised for standing up as victims of organized crime.
The sum seized from the Virga family is one of the largest ever in Mafia-related investigations. They are believed to be affiliated with the Cosa Nostra syndicate from their hometown Marineo, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the Sicilian capital of Palermo.
The Marineo mafia clan is also linked to the well-known Corleone family according to Italy's anti-Mafia agency (DIA).
The authorities suspect that it was the Virgas' mob connections that help the three brothers and two sisters win lucrative public contracts in the construction business.
In 2013, the Virgas were heralded as a positive example by anti-Mafia organizations like Addiopizzo when they testified as victims of five mafiosos on trial at the time for racketeering.
In recent years, crime syndicates from Sicily and Naples have used the recession triggered by the global financial crisis to extend their reach northward from their traditional south roots. In 2014, Italy tied with Romania as the most corrupt country in the European Union in Transparency International's annual table.
es/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)