But, it shares another trait with renewables. Like heavily subsidized solar energy in Europe, windmills are ripe opportunities for fraud, according to the September 5th Telegraph (U.K.):
Italy's windfarms have now acquired a somewhat dirtier whiff -- as the latest industry to be infiltrated by the country's mobsters.So, while you might think green means "eco-friendly," it also means "money laundering." Next stop -- tradeable carbon credit fraud.
Attracted by the prospect of generous grants designed to boost the use of alternative energies, the so-called "eco Mafia" has begun fraudulently creaming off millions of euros from both the Italian government and the European Union.
And nowhere has the industry's reputation become more tarnished than Sicily, where windmills now dot the horizon in Mafia strongholds like Corleone, the town better known as the setting for the Godfather films.
"Nothing earns more than a wind farm," said Edoardo Zanchini, an environmental campaigner who has investigated Mafia infiltration of the industry. "Anything that creates wealth interests the Mafia."
It is not just Italian criminals, however, who have spotted the potential for corruption. Recent research by Kroll, the international corporate security firm, has discovered examples all over Europe of so-called "clean energy" schemes being used to to line criminals' pockets rather than save the planet. Some involve windmills that stand derelict or are simply never built, while others are used to launder profits from other crime enterprises.
"Renewable energy seems like a good thing, run by saintly people saving the world," said Jason Wright, a senior director with Kroll, which performs background checks on renewable energy schemes on behalf of legitimate investors, and which has documented a sharp rise in the number of wind farms with suspect ownership.
"But a lot of people want to jump on board a sure-fire revenue spinner. I wouldn't say the entire sector is corrupt, but there is a small percentage of corrupt projects."
(via reader Warren)