The logistics company of Deutsche Bahn has partially lost control of its subsidiary in Italy.

This rather strange situation arose because the Italian public prosecutor's office accused the Schenker haulage company in Italy of not adequately protecting itself against infiltration by the mafia.

Therefore, two judges ordered on Tuesday to place Schenker in Italy under special administration.

According to Article 34 of the Anti-Mafia Law, state receivers can take control of companies if they see a Mafia threat.

Christian Schubert

Economic correspondent for Italy and Greece.

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The investigators have apparently discovered significant gaps in the controls at Schenker, which large companies in Italy normally use to protect themselves against organized crime.

It is about a member of the Ndrangheta from Calabria named Nicola Bevilacqua, who was born in 1952 in the small town of Nicotera in Calabria, in the province of Vibo Valentia, and lives in the Como region.

He has been convicted of mafia connections and severe extortion in the past and, according to Italian media reports, is considered a member of the Ndrina Mancuso sub-organization, which also has representations in Lombardy.

The infiltration is said to have taken place via his wife Anna Fiuto.

She runs the small haulage company Anna Fiuto Autotrasporti, which, according to its website, now employs 3 office workers and 26 drivers.

According to the allegations of the Italian investigators, Schenker gave the company transport orders worth 2 million euros over a period of five years.

The judge who ordered the special administration accused the German company of negligence.

"Some executives at least negligently facilitated the activity of the convicted person and the company associated with him".

Schenker's headquarters in Germany confirmed on Wednesday that the Italian subsidiary was placed under "provisional" judicial administration.

"The official procedure is preventively aimed at preventing the use or infiltration of companies by external actors," said Schenker.

However, it is not a question of criminal proceedings against Schenker Italiana or its management.

The allegations were only found out "in connection with the process".

"We fully support the authorities," it said in a statement.

Business circles add that Schenker works with thousands of subcontractors.

Criminal proceedings could follow

The public prosecutor's office in Milan confirms that there are no criminal proceedings against Schenker.

"But it's entirely possible that criminal proceedings will follow," says Rodolfo Dolce, a lawyer specializing in international business law who works in Milan and Frankfurt.

The special administration is a sharp instrument within the framework of the anti-mafia law, which also offers milder options.

The special administration provides for the management of a company to be virtually replaced.

This is presented differently in Schenker circles: There it is said that one can largely continue to work normally, the state administrators only have to be involved in decision-making processes.

According to the law, the special administration can last for one year and can be extended by another year.

Schenker Italy has its headquarters in the small town of Peschiera Borromeo near Milan.

1,400 employees work for Schenker at the headquarters and in 34 branches.

The annual turnover is around 700 million euros.

Federico Girgenti has headed the Italian Schenker subsidiary for almost ten years.

He joined the company 22 years ago.

The affair apparently started in 2020 after Schenker reported the discovery of 30 kilograms of cocaine in a subcontractor's truck to the authorities.

The drug was seized at the Port of Dover in the UK in March 2020.

According to Italian media reports, individual employees were talkative: The connections to the Mafiosi Bevilacqua had existed "for a long time", it said.

Therefore, there were also risks that Schenker's transports would become involved in drug trafficking.

The special administration was requested by two prosecutors in Milan and the anti-mafia authority DDA and approved by the judge.

Several Schenker representatives "showed extreme leniency in their dealings with and facilitating the activities of an individual with this criminal record," the judges wrote in the order.

During a bugging campaign, a brother-in-law of Bevilacqua is said to have said that he and his comrades-in-arms wanted to systematically infiltrate Schenker.

Due to its influence, Bevilacqua was also able to push through price reductions in its favour.

A second Italian forwarding and logistics company called Aldieri was also placed under special administration.

There are similar allegations.