Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda Rome
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View of the Pantheon in Piazza della Rotonda, empty, with no tourists and closed shops and restaurants , on January 27, 2021.
The Italian mafia it tightening its grip on small businesses during lockdown.The fear is that these businesses will become an 'instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital'

Italy's mafia reportedly provided stimulus for some struggling small businesses in the country and there is concern that these establishments will become beholden to these mobsters going forward.

The Financial Times, citing a study by Rome's interior ministry on organized crime, reported that small or mid-sized businesses in the country were given the funds, but the mafia then reverted to the "traditional intimidatory conduct aimed at acquiring control of their economic activities."

There is fear that these businesses could become "an instrument for money laundering and recycling illicit capital."

Mario Draghi Italy finance minister
© East News / Luo Huanhuan
Mario Draghi
It has been widely reported that Italy's economy has suffered a dramatic blow from the coronavirus outbreak. The country is pinning its recovery hope on Mario Draghi, its new prime minister who has been credited with saving the euro. He has been tasked with figuring out how to best employ the $240 billion in relief funds from Europe the country will receive to combat the virus and bring back the economy.

Reuters reported that the Italian economy shrank by 2.0% in Q4 2020, and 8.8% over the whole year. The report called it the "steepest annual GDP drop for Italy since WW2.

The FT reported that there has been a drop in some crimes normally associated with organized crime like counterfeiting and robberies, but possible arsons — that could be tied to racketeering — were comparable to 2019.