Italian Mafia returns to the Lira

Italy’s Mafia uses the old lira as its own parallel currency, despite the currency having been replaced by euro notes and coins in 2002

A senior Italian police officer revealed this week that domestic criminal organizations are still using the pre-euro currency for illicit transactions. It’s not clear how the former notes are ultimately exchanged for euros, if at all, though he said officers are still uncovering them. The lira ceased to be legal tender at the end of February 2002.

“We still discover big amounts of liras,” Giuseppe Arbore, a deputy in the Guardia di Finanza, which investigates financial crimes, said at a parliamentary hearing on Thursday. “Italian liras still constitute parts of illicit transactions.”

“When a banknote is accepted by an organization internally, even if it is outside the law as a legal value, it can settle transactions,” he said. “We are obviously talking about illicit organizations.”

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