Congratulations are in order for Italy, which last week acquired 43 wind and solar energy companies.

But this was not the result of a public scheme designed to rein in carbon emissions or put Italians in control of their energy future. It was the court-ordered consequence of an organized crime investigation — the biggest ever seizure of Mafia-linked assets.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

From Agence France-Presse:

Italian police have seized assets worth $1.7bn from a Sicilian renewable energy developer in the biggest ever seizure of mafia-linked assets.

The police said on Wednesday that the assets, which include 43 wind and solar energy companies, 98 properties and 66 bank accounts, belonged to Vito Nicastri, a 57-year-old businessman nicknamed the “Lord of the Wind” for his prominent role in the business.

“This is a sector in which money can easily be laundered,” Arturo de Felice, head of Italy’s anti-Mafia agency, told SkyTG24 news channel.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Operating in a grey area helped him build up his business over the years,” De Felice said.

It might be tempting to feel sympathetic toward a guy who pours ill-gotten funds into renewable energy. That temptation might evaporate, however, once you find out about some of the awful crimes he is accused of committing. Such as murdering his pregnant girlfriend. And it’s not just that the Mafia was investing crime proceeds in renewable energy — it was scamming the public out of subsidies intended to promote wind energy. From The Independent:

Nicastri … invested money made from extortion, drug sales and other illegal activities for the Sicilian Mafia’s most sought-after fugitive, Matteo Messina Denaro, who is believed to be the [Mafia syndicate] Cosa Nostra’s head boss.

In 2010, it emerged that Cosa Nostra was attempting to take millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union by snatching the generous grants on offer for investment in wind power and environmentally-friendly business.

General Antonio Girone, then head of the national anti-Mafia agency DIA, said Mr Nicastri had built up a huge alternative energy business at the behest of the organised crime syndicate.

In addition to halting the giant eco-scam, Italian prosecutors said the seizure of 66 bank accounts, as well as property and businesses, would be another body blow to Cosa Nostra’s leadership, which is already reeling from dozens of high-profile arrests in the past ten years.

So congratulations, Italians. Courtesy of the ongoing takedown of a reportedly very bad person, you have become the collective owners of some serious renewable energy generation capacity.