The Mafia made £61 million a day last year in Italy through protection rackets, bribes and illegal money lending, according to a new report.
The SOS Impresa report, which is compiled from government figures, showed that Italy's four major criminal syndicates even managed to collect £25 million a day from major companies listed on the Milan stock exchange.
Revenues for the Mafia, which is made up of the Cosa Nostra in Sicily, the 'Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Campania and the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia, were up 25 per cent in 2005 to £24 billion compared with 2004.
The new turnover - which excludes income from drugs and gun-running - puts the Mafia on a par with Fiat and Enel, two of the country's largest companies.
The criminal empire earns five times as much as Telecom Italia, the state telephone monopoly.
The majority of the extortion occurs in Italy's south and in Sicily 80 per cent of businesses pay protection money. In Palermo, the island's capital, a city-centre store can expect to pay up to £700 a month and supermarkets around £3,500 a month, according to the report.
Also, a fascinating obituary:
The Reverend His Honour Major Christopher Lea, who has died aged 88, fulfilled every Victorian father's traditional hope that his younger sons would join the Army, the Law or the Church by entering all three professions.
Lea made his mark as a soldier by earning an MC in the first commando raid of the Second World War, which successfully blew up an Italian bridge. After being captured he read Law in prison camp, which led to his being called to the Bar by Inner Temple in 1948. He practised as a barrister before being becoming a metropolitan magistrate and later a circuit judge. Then, on retiring from the bench, he was ordained priest, and became a much-loved assistant curate at Stratfield Mortimer, Berkshire, for the remaining years of his life.