Alleged money-laundering drug runner also a top exec of Italian football referees


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‘Know Your World’ Fail: Senior refereeing exec accused of being money-laundering drug runner

AML Partners encourages its clients to embrace Know Your World (KYW) instead of just Know Your Customer (KYC). And the alleged hiding-in-plain-sight criminality of a top Italian football-referee official shows exactly why ‘Know Your World’ and Horizontal Governance matter so much.

Accusations broke recently that a top official in Italy’s Italian Referee Association (AIA) had been living a double life as a money-laundering drug runner in a large-scale criminal enterprise.

Authorities arrested Rosario D’Onofrio, 42, who had risen to the position of the top AIA official in charge of misconduct cases among Italy’s uppermost professional football referees.

Authorities allege that D’Onofrio was an active member of a gang that trafficked at least six tons of marijuana and hashish from Spain to Italy. Evidence includes wiretaps and various surveillance. Surveillance allegedly shows D’Onofrio bluffing his way through Covid-lockdown checkpoints in a drug-packed Volvo while wearing his old Army uniform, hence the Rambo nickname.

Magistrates in Italy assert that in addition to moving large quantities of drugs in a distribution network in northern Italy, D’Onofrio also worked to launder money from drug sales through a contact in Milan back to drug suppliers in Spain.

Italy’s National Association of Referees has been red-faced about the revelations about one its top leaders. And that embarrassment grew upon details of D’Onofrio having been arrested in mid-2020 with 40 kg (about 88 pounds) of marijuana. The Association promoted him to its top position even though he was serving his sentence at the time. Association leaders claim not to know about the details of his 2020 conviction or his illegal activities since.

Some members of the AIA are reported to be furious that a convicted criminal serving his prison sentence in house arrest was able to interview successfully for a top position in their organization. Calls for investigations into the hiring and the apparent absence of background checks are ongoing.

In addition to ‘Know Your World’ due diligence practices, the AIA part of the story raises questions about horizontal governance, overall risk mitigation, and the tone from the top. While a lot of the finger-pointing may stay in house at the AIA, it seems like there might be more fallout related to the tentacles of this story.

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