Palazzolo fighting for freedom

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Convicted Mafia boss Vito Palazzolo, who built a multimillion-rand business empire in South Africa and Namibia, hopes to be a free man soon.

The 68-year-old is serving a nine-year sentence for “aggravated Mafia-type association” in Italy. He was convicted there in absentia in 2006.

The Namibian reported in May that it has identified at least eight companies or entities linked to Palazzolo in Namibia. Some of the companies have been dissolved and some properties sold and liquidated, but those in the know said that Palazzolo still holds vast riches in Namibia, the newspaper further reported.

Government denied reports that Namibia was instructed to reveal the riches of the Italian, for purposes of confiscation.

Investigations uncovered that Italian authorities have a list of entities believed to be linked to the alleged mafia member. These include Avila, Komsberg Farming, Aruba Fruit Exporters, Ancash Investments, Marbela Investments, Southern Cross Aviation , Southern Cross Wilderness and Mannheim Investment.

Avila and Marbella were deregistered in 2010 after having been registered in 2005.

Law enforcement sources said that with all his activities in Namibia, Palazzolo had about 14 bank accounts, seven of which are still active with over N$17 million in them.

Despite having been deregistered in 2010, Avila’s bank account remains active and is allegedly being used by Palazzolo’s wife Tirtza von Palace Kolbatschenko. Tirtza von Palace Kolbatschenko allegedly transferred over N$1 million into the Avila account from her account in Bangkok, Thailand last year.

Law enforcement agencies in Namibia uncovered that he controlled about eight bank accounts all named Komsberg, including Komsberg Farming, an entity which has been liquidated, according to The Namibian.

He fled to South Africa in 1986 after escaping from prison in Switzerland, where he was serving three years for financing drug trafficking.

He was arrested in Franschhoek in 1988 and returned to Switzerland.

He returned to South Africa, lived in the lap of luxury and successfully fought extradition to Italy but in 2012 was arrested in Thailand, extradited to Italy and jailed.

His lawyer, Baldassare Lauria, said: “In theory [he] still has to serve five years, but we are running a procedure for the recognition of sentence that Mr Palazzolo served in Switzerland for the same facts, so we hope [for] a substantial reduction of penalty.’’

A high-level delegation from Italy met South African authorities last month to gather information on Palazzolo, who still owns several multimillion-rand homes in the country, including at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
– Additional reporting by