The Guardia di Finanza speaks up. On Tuesday, General Giuseppe Zafarana – the Commander General of Italy’s financial corps – was audited by the Chamber of Deputies’ Defence Committee and explained the work that the GdF is carrying out.
- In detailing the corps’ latest report, which mapped the threats to Italy’s financial stability and national security, he pointed at two main hostile actors: Moscow and Beijing.
Freezing Russian assets. Since February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine and the European Union began sanctioning individuals and organisations connected to the Kremlin’s war effort, the GdF has initiated investigations on over 1,600 sanctioned subjects.
- Overall, the financial corps froze “buildings, motor vehicles, aircraft, works of art, vessels, land and company shares” worth about €2 billion at the expense of 23 persons and three entities, noted General Zafarana.
Checking Chinese operations. Detailing how the GdF is watching over the use of EU funds, foreign investment control and the protection of Italian consumers and products, the general highlighted the example of Prato, home of the second-largest Chinese community in Italy and the location of one of the so-called Chinese overseas police stations.
- Counterfeiting is a “particularly structured phenomenon” there, explained General Zafarana. He noted the smuggling of raw materials arriving from Chinese ports to European ones (such as Piraeus in Greece and Trieste in Italy), where customs duties are often not paid properly, and factories in the Prato area where they are processed “in total disregard of the rules on work safety, welfare and assistance”.
- This phenomenon has a “devastating effect” on competition and “penalises Italian operators,” he added.
- The commander also made an oblique reference to the Alpi Aviation case (without explicitly mentioning the company’s name), which saw an Italian drone manufacturer passing into the hands of two State-owned Chinese groups in violation of Italian law.
- Back then, Mario Draghi’s government exercised its special powers by cancelling the operation and forcing the Chinese company to sell its shares.