Authorities in Italy have reportedly seized several resorts that stretched along the country's southern coast after police suspected the properties were tied to a sophisticated money laundering operation. The criminal activity is thought to be run by certain mafia outfits.
A total of 17 seaside properties were seized during the operation along with 20 arrest warrants that were executed in addition to the property seizers. The elaborate scheme was allegedly facilitated by two separate factions of the Calabrian Mafia.
Local reports indicate that the actions were the result of an investigation that started in 2008 when Italian authorities noticed usual activities occurring between an Irish developer, two Spanish investors, and the Calabrian Mafia.
The raids were not isolated to Italy, as suspects were sought in Britain and Spain as well as more than $600 million in assets that were seized.
"This scam is the result of the combination between massive influx of outside capital and, above all, the ability of criminal organizations to govern and 'control' the territory, thus guaranteeing the purchase of land and the development of projects," Massimo Minniti, preliminary investigative judge in the case, said in a statement.
Harry Fitzsimmons was identified as the Irish developer, but he was not arrested because he resides in country where the Italian arrest warrant is not recognized.
"The problem is that the man cannot be arrested because he is no longer in Italy, he has gone to a country where the arrest warrant against him cannot be enforced."
Sonia Alfano, spokeswoman for the European Anti-Mafia Commission, said in a statement.
However, Dan McGuinness, Fitzsimmons legal representative, revealed that his client has denied any wrongdoing in connection with the investigation.
"Mr. Fitzsimmons totally refutes the allegations being made against him which are unfounded. He has not at any time been contacted by the police in either Italy or Northern Ireland and has been carrying out a legitimate business as a promoter of properties in south Italy," McGuinness told the BBC.