“Riprendiamoli”, Mafia Bosses’ Ferrari Cars

In the past, the bosses would drive them: the “padrinos” of ‘ndrangheta, of the Casalesi clan or of  Mafia Capitale, showing off their power at the wheel of a blazing-red Ferrari. The symbol of Made in Italy in the world in the hands of those who had exported one word: mafia. Today dozens of luxury cars are parked in the Courts warehouses and they are waiting to make a comeback on new roads, this time legally. There are about thirty cars with the [Ferrari] rampant horse brand taken from criminals on the basis of final seizures and currently under management of the National Agency for Seized and Confiscated Assets(ANSBC). Under an agreement between Anbsc and the Ferrari, signed in November 2015 by the Manager Umberto Postiglione and the Marketing and Sales Manager Enrico Galliera, the cars will be assigned to the [Ferrari] car manufacturer, which will assess their damage and the necessary repairs to be carried out, will perform a financial analysis and then will resell them to their authorized car dealerships in Italy and abroad.

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The Agency will handle all the bureaucratic aspects and will support Ferrari in the delicate phase of picking up the cars, which may have to take place even from the garages of the seizure’s recipients. In such case, if necessary, police support will be called on. The sale procedure will have to be transparent: this is the clause included in the four points that make up the agreement, to ensure that the assets will not fall back into the wrong hands. Those who purchase a Ferrari that belonged to criminals will have to submit a criminal records statement and a certificate of pending charges. “Those who at any degree are under investigation and/or with a criminal record tied to organized crime will not be allowed to access the purchase of the cars.”

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After the sale, Ferrari will withhold a portion for the costs sustained and the rest will be deposited into the “Fondo unico giustizia” (Single Justice Fund) and will be used to indemnify the victims of mafia crimes. In 2015, this fund has reached 56.5 million Euros, including cash.

Broken down luxury. The Agency decided to seek an agreement with Ferrari because of the difficulties in selling at a good price luxury assets that belonged to criminals. In fact, without appropriate maintenance such assets risk a significant depreciation and loss of value. In December 2012, Anbsc signed a memorandum of understanding with the Judicial Sales Institutes to get rid of cars, motorbikes, vessels and precious items seized permanently because every day that goes by these assets represent a cost for the State. “The main issue arises from the time of the seizure: luxury cars remains in storage for several years, parked in warehouses or even in the garages of the people from whom they were seized,” explains Giancarlo Manzo, Manager of seizures and bankruptcy repossessions of  the Roma and Tivoli Judicial Sales Institute. “Today, selling a Porsche or a Ferrari seized in 2010 is not impossible because it still is a good deal. The past year we sold a Targa at a price of € 96,000, starting from a base bid value of € 45,000 then a Ferrari F430 at a price of € 75,000, but its true value was at least € 110,000. We sell them with under the “as is” policy, with no warranties, inspections or repairs. Obviously, we would have collected a lot more if the procedures would have been faster.”

Una ferrari sequestrata a Roma

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The Rome-based Institute put up for bid approximately fifty cars on behalf of Anbsc in 2015. In addition to luxury cars, there are mostly small cars, SUVs or sedans to attract the attention of deal seekers. On each sale, the Institute gains a commission between 9% and 15%. “Online bids allow us to obtain good visibility even abroad,” says Manzo. “The number of foreigners that purchase here in Italy to then register the cars in countries such as Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, and Albania, where the taxes and insurance costs are much lower, has increased significantly. By paying less than € 20,000, they can bring home an SUV of value, such as a Bmw X6 or an Audi Q7, with a milage of just 20-30.000 kilometers. Clients do not care to whom the vehicle belonged, whether it was a drug lord or a fraudsters, and besides they will never know.”

In previous bids, with just € 10,000 it was possible to bring home a Testarossa 348 seized from a drug lord, a car that is still charming despite being over twenty years old. In 2011, The Agency Director, Mr. Giuseppe Caruso, put up for bid approximately thirty luxury cars, among which four Ferraris seized in Puglia, Sicily and Calabria, and a Porsche held in Sicily.

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Bosses like the red ones. Ferrari is one of the Italian brands most appreciated in the word, even among criminals. El Chapo Guzman, the latest Mexican drug lord arrested  in January 2016, after having escaped from a maximum security jail, loved luxury, weapons, airplanes and “The Red one”: Ferrari.

In the list of cars for sale there may end up being the Ferrari seized from the Casamonica clan of Rome in 2013 as part of an investigation on the international drug trafficking, or one of the sports cars of the luxury car pool of the Casalesi clan. The Court investigations revealed that the boss of the Barra neighborhood of Naples, Pasquale Aprea, asked to loan from Casalesi’s Massimo Russo, a.k.a “Paperino” [“Donald Duck”] a Ferrari F430 on occasion of the “Lilium Fair” [a local celebration] in 2007. The clan chief paraded among the crowd by making the engine roar among applauses and awe.

“Protecting the luxury image of the brand that is reason to boast the Made in Italy” is one of the reasons for the agreement between the Agency and the Ferrari Company which, indirectly, will contribute to the fight against mafia by optimizing “the conditions of sale of the cars and maximizing the possible revenues on behalf of the Revenue Agency.”

A Porsche-ambulance. The Agency can assign vehicles and vessels also to Municipalities, Ministries or law enforcement agencies. Managing a luxury car, however, it is not like handling a small car. An alternative solution to the reuse of a luxury car was identified by the Italian Red Cross of Rome, which turned a Porsche Cayenne seized  in 2012 into a medical assistance car, equipped for emergency transportation also at high speed. “The car is equipped to respond to emergency calls made to 118 [equivalent to 911] on occasion of serious accidents and for the transportation of people to undergo organ transplants,” the Red Cross in Rome explains. On the sides there is a visible decal that reads “Vehicle seized from organized crime.” The first official run of the Porsche-Ambulance occurred on April 27, 2014, on occasion of the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, when approximately eight hundred thousand people crowded the streets of the Vatican. Then, it was used on occasion of the Opening of the Jubilee.

The reuse of a seized luxury car depends on the availability of Institutions, Associations and Law Enforcement Agencies to take on the costs of maintenance and fuel. When the right conditions cannot be met, it is better to sell or to keep the cars in display as the Turin-based Vehicles Museum did, by putting in display behind bars a Porsche Panamera seized from a fraudster. (gdm)

Translated by Marion Sarah Tuggey