From toxic waste to iGaming

housecardsfall

 

It is a well known fact that the underworld on the Italian peninsula controls vast stretches of the Italian economy.

Some readers would remember the underworld’s waste-management activity that ended in the sinking of some 42 ships laden with toxic and/or hazardous waste throughout the Mediterranean. This was well known to environmentalists but confirmed during the Palermo maxi-processo, when Mafia turncoat Francesco Fonti gave evidence identifying the location of one such sunken ship, the Kunsky, loaded with 120 barrels of toxic waste, just off the Calabrian coast.

This network of organised environmental crime is so vast that, at one time, it also dumped toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in Somalia. The warlords in the Somalia civil war were partly financed by the Italian underworld, which supplied them with arms in return for their consent to the dumping of the toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in Somalia. Rai Tre’s investigative journalist Ilaria Alpi and her cameraman Miran Hrovatin were murdered in Mogadishu after having successfully tracked down the toxic shipments.

In early 2008 it was identified that buffalo mozzarella originating from some 83 dairy farms in an area near Naples was tainted with dioxin. The buffalo were grazing in an area where the Mafia was controlling the dumping of toxic waste  containing dioxin. When ingested through food dioxin can cause birth defects and organ failure in mammals. Large quantities of buffalo mozzarella tainted with dioxin were withdrawn from the market.

Carmine Schiavone, another Mafia turncoat, spilled the beans on more dumping of toxic and hazardous waste by the Mafia in the Naples area, in particular in the area around Casale di Principe. It has been reported that the incidence of cancer in these areas has skyrocketed as a result of the dumping contaminating the water table.

It is estimated that the underworld has garnered some €20 billion a year in the last few years from its illicit dealings in waste. Add to this the billions from its drug dealings, estimated at another €20 billion annually and you can clearly understand the Mafia’s need to launder huge sums of money.

Two specific areas seem to have been selected for this purpose. One such area was an investment in wind-farms in Sicily. Wheeling and dealing in the Sicilian wind farms was a certain Gaetano Buglisi who, for a time, made use of Malta’s fiduciary services by hiding behind their corporate veil. Last February the Italian Courts sentenced him to three years in jail as well as a substantial fine on finding him guilty of tax evasion.

It is within this context that one should try to understand the iGaming saga in Malta.

In the last few days the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has suspended the operating licences of a number of iGaming operators. Until the time of writing, six operators have been suspended, namely : Uniq Group Limited (Betuniq), Betsolution4U Limited, Alibaba Casino Limited, Soft Casino Limited,   Fenplay Limited and Soft Bet Limited . The MGA did not act on its own initiative but at the request of Italian law enforcement agencies.

In a press release, the MGA stated these licences had been suspended “further to investigations and arrests carried out by the Italian law enforcement authorities in collaboration with the Maltese police. The MGA is providing full support to the relevant authorities so that Malta’s reputation as a gaming jurisdiction of excellence is kept free from crime and money laundering. The MGA is also alerting counterpart regulators in other EU jurisdictions about this case.”

In a further press release issued on 25 July it was stated  “At the time of application (according to the MGA’s records), in line with standard procedures, all directors, shareholders, senior managers and ultimate beneficiary owners of these companies have been screened through MGA’s systems and protocols, using probity tools and national and international contacts and organisations. This forms part of the probity checks conducted at pre-licensing stage and before the actual business model of the gaming operation in question is screened and other control systems are checked and approved. The licensing process also includes independent audits, such as system and compliance audits which are carried out by approved external auditors.”

It seems that the due diligence carried out in Malta is no match for the underworld. It is possibly a case of amateurs trying to keep professionals in check.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna stated that a review of due diligence procedures will be undertaken and changes will be put in place if  required. As a start, he should consider embedding complete transparency in iGaming. Hiding the identity of iGaming operators should be discontinued by emending legislation and discontinuing fiduciary services. This corporate veil is unfortunately being used as a tool by the underworld. As a nation we could do better if we make an effort to keep organised crime as far away from Malta’s economic activities as possible. It is pertinent to ask: how many iGaming jobs in Malta depend on Mafia linked operators.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday, 2 August 2015

On this blog on the same subject one can view the following :

2009 The eco-threat of the Italian Mafia.

2013 On Malta’s Northern doorstep: the Mafia contaminates Southern Italy with millions of tonnes of toxic and nuclear waste.

2013 Ecocide in the Mediterranean. The known consequences so far.

2013 Schiavone’s secrets on eco-mafia operations: when will Malta’s government speak up.

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L-Imtieħen tar-Riħ

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Huwa tajjeb li fl-aħħar il-Gvern beda jiċċaqlaq biex ikun possibli li f’Malta ukoll niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-riħ.

Fl-aħħar.

Beda jiċċaqlaq għax l-Unjoni Ewropea qed tagħfas. Mill-bqija m’hemm l-ebda entużjażmu.

Ħarsa lejn ir-rapport ta’ Mott MacDonald imħejji f’Jannar 2009 w intitolat Feasibility Study for Increasing Renewable Energy Credentials fil-paġna 2-3 hemm kumment dwar in-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni fuq l-irjieħat.

Jingħad mill-konsulenti li billi l-informazzjoni li kellhom kienet dwar ir-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa, 18-il kilometru mis-Sikka l-Bajda ma tantx setgħu jkunu preċiżi f’dak li jgħidu. L-argument għaldaqstant hu dwar kif tista’ tibda tikkunsidra siti differenti biex fihom tqiegħed imtieħen tar-riħ jekk qabel ma tkunx analizzajt bir-reqqa l-qawwa tar-riħ madwar il-gżejjer Maltin u b’hekk tkun tista’ tibda bl-aħjar siti.

Dan jidher li ma sarx, kemm mir-rapport li jissemma iktar il-fuq (dak ta’ Mott MacDonald) kif ukoll mir-rapport tal-Kummissjoni Deidun intitolat “An Offshore Windfarm at Is-Sikka l-Bajda. An Evaluation of Concerns from Government Stakeholders.” datat Lulju 2008. Ir-rapport Deidun jitkellem biss dwar Is-Sikka l-Bajda, ma kellux għażla. Ma setax jikkonsidra options oħra.

Issa jiena m’għandi xejn kontra li jkun hemm l-imtieħen tar-riħ fis-Sikka l-Bajda. Imma xtaqt li nkun naf fuq liema kriterju ġie deċiż li dan ikun sit biex fih jitqegħdu l-imtieħen. Hemm min qed jgħid li din hi xi ħaġa li wieħed jaraha fl-istadju tal-analiżi tal-impatti ambjentali. Le. Qabel ma intagħżel is-sit kellu jkun hemm ġustifikazzjoni għal dan. Parti minn dak magħruf bħala Strategic Site Selection Exercise. Din setgħet issir biss a bażi ta’ kemm hu qawwi r-riħ fl-inħawi. Minn hemm imbagħad wieħed jgħaddi biex jeżamina l-impatti ambjentali, u kif dawn jistgħu jkunu mitigati.

Wara li sar ir-rapport Deidun, għax jidher li hemm problemi dwar is-sit tas-Sikka l-Bajda, l-Gvern identifika żewġ siti oħra addizzjonali : Ħal-Far u Wied Rini limiti tal-Baħrija. Araw ftit x’jingħad dwar il-qawwa tar-rih f’dawn l-inħawi fil-Project Description Statement tal-proposti għas-Sikka l-Bajda, Ħal-Far u Wied Rini.

F’kull wieħed minn dawn ir-rapporti jidher ċar li ma sar l-ebda studju iżda intuża l-kejl tar-riħ f’Ħal-Luqa. Dan iwassal għall-konlużjoni illi jista’ jkun li hemm siti oħra li huma iktar addattati biex fihom jitqegħdu l-imtieħen tar-rih. Għax tant hemm x’jgħin jew itellef li bil-kalkulazzjonijiet biss ma mhux biżżejjed.

Sfortunatament għal darba oħra l-Gvern mexa b’mod dilettantesk : l-ewwel ħa d-deċiżjoni dwar fejn irid l-imtieħen tar-riħ u issa qed jara kif jiġġustifika din id-deċiżjoni.

Nittama biss li ma jkomplix jgħaffeġ. Forsi xi darba mhux il-bogħod nibdew bħala pajjiż niġġeneraw l-enerġija mir-rih, imma dan nagħmluh b’effiċjenza.

Paroli biss

 

 

 

L-Iskozja ħabbret il-proġett tal-Clyde wind farm.

 

Bi spiża stmata ta’ £600 miljun (€866.50 miljun) il-proġett jinvolvi 152 turbina b’kapaċita ta’ 456MW. Biżżejjed għal 250,000 dar.

 

L-Iskozja qed tippjana li sal-2011 tiġġenera 31% tal-enerġija elettrika li għandha bżonn minn sorsi rinovibbli. Sal-2020 qed timmira għal 50%.

 

U aħna : għandna Gvern li jlablab ħafna u r-riżultati ma jidhru imkien !

Norway considers floating windmills

Reuters

UTSIRA, Norway — Giant turbines the size of jumbo jets bobbing on the North Sea may soon become as common off Norway as oil and gas platforms.
At least that is the ambition of Norwegian authorities and industry, eager to splash some green on their oily image and use their offshore expertise to corner a potentially lucrative new market – floating wind farms in deep sea waters.
Norway’s government is contemplating licensing “blocks” for offshore wind generation, and Norwegian oil company StatoilHydro aims to start work next year on a floating turbine project near the site of the first North Sea oil discovery 40 years ago.
“We are the best place in Norway if you love wind,” Mayor Jarle Nilsen said of Utsira, a North Sea island of just six square kilometres and home to 210 people who already get most of their power from two onshore turbines.

With Europe’s second-longest coastline after Greece, Norway is hard hit by winds blowing off the Atlantic and, along with Britain, well placed for wind=energy projects.
Offshore turbines can be twice as powerful as land-based units because of stronger, more sustained winds at sea.
Out of sight from the coast, such wind farms could use modified, more efficient turbines that do not limit noise, a key concern for land-based wind farms.
The technology is not tested and costly offshore repairs could quickly drive up costs, analysts say.
The price of wind electricity produced will also probably stay above that of conventional fossil fuel-based power for years to come, meaning that state subsidies play a major role.
“We have been very clear in saying that there are exciting prospects in offshore wind and indeed floating wind,” Deputy Energy and Petroleum Minister Liv Monica Stubholt said.
“But we also acknowledge that experts advise us to ‘hurry slowly’ because there are still considerable technological hurdles that need to be hopped.”
Further, deeper
The use of the wind is growing around the world – it is set to top 100 gigawatts in installed capacity in 2008 in a push for alternatives to coal- or gas-powered plants, which emit heat-trapping gasses. Still, wind accounts for only 1 per cent of the global power mix.
About 98 per cent of that capacity is at land-based turbines, but new technology and the benefits of pushing wind farms away from populated areas are strengthening the offshore market – currently led by Britain and Denmark.
The Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council has forecast that the world’s wind market will reach 240 gigawatts by 2012, with a growing share coming from offshore.
Britain has an ambitious goal for 35 GW in installed offshore wind capacity by 2020.
The floating turbine concept allows wind farms to wade farther out to sea. Anchored to the seabed, they can be built in deeper waters where the sea floor would be too soft for standing turbines.
StatoilHydro’s project, expected to get an official go-ahead soon, will be a 2.3 megawatt turbine, with a diameter of 107 metres and jutting nearly 80 metres above the water. A further 120 metres of the floating concrete hull will be submerged.
The “Hywind” project, which includes German Siemens AG’s wind-power unit, will test the technology and look for ways to cut operating and maintenance costs for the giant turbines to be located in water depths of up to 700 metres.
 
If the demonstration project succeeds, more may come early next decade to provide supplemental electricity for places such as some North Sea platforms or coastal Norwegian towns.
“It also has global potential in places with the proper sea and wind conditions, a suitable market size and the right price incentives,” said Jan-Fredrik Stadaas, head of wind energy project development at StatoilHydro.
Such markets could include the United States, Canada, Spain and Portugal, France, Japan and Britain, Mr. Stadaas said.
Tilting into the wind
Another project, led by Norwegian utilities Statkraft and Lyse and including StatoilHydro and Shell, seeks to build wind turbine towers that tilt against the wind to withstand severe North Sea conditions. A full-scale 5 MW prototype of the “Sway” turbine is planned in 2010.
The Norwegian government is providing cash to both projects but the real test of its resolve will come in its offshore wind regulations, which may mimic the country’s oil and gas rules.
Ms. Stubholt, the deputy minister, said Norway may offer offshore wind power licences in specific blocks, along with incentives.
She said Norway was slow to embrace wind energy because most of its electricity already comes from clean hydropower, limiting demand for more renewable energy.
Industry officials hope the state aid plans include investment-based subsidies or feed-in tariffs, where offshore generators would be given a steady price for their electricity, as well as link-ups to existing grids.
“Given concerns about reliability of untested technology and a virtually non-existent market for offshore wind installation and maintenance, these projects require an active role by the state to lower some of the risks,” one industry official said.

Dilemma

L-Independent (UK) f’artiklu ippubblikat il-bierah jikkummenta dwar deciżjoni diffiċli ta’ ippjanar fejn id-deċiżjoni li kellha tittieħed ma kienitx bejn xi ħaġa tajba jew oħra ħażina, iżda bejn żewġ materji li t-tnejn huma tajba.

 

Id-dilemma kienet jekk jingħatax permess għal onshore wind farm fl-Isle of Lewis. Din il-wind farm li kieku ngħatat il-permess kienet ser toħloq mijiet ta’ impiegi f’żona remota kif ukoll kienet ser tikkontribwixxi mhux ftit biex jintlaħqu l-miri ta’ ġenerazzjoni ta’ enerġija alternattiva.

 

Imma kien hemm ukoll ħdax-il elf oġġezzjoni minn residenti li emfasizzaw il-ħtieġa u l-importanza tal-biodiversita’. Għax l-inħawi huma protetti (Special Protection Area) magħrufa għal għasafar rari li l-esistenza tagħhom hi mhedda.

 

Dilemma kbira li mhux il-MEPA biss ikollha minnhom !

Ara ukoll dawn l-Scotsman u l-Guardian.