By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
Fearless journalist Roberto Saviano, who has dedicated his career to exposing the Italian mafia, has claimed that it is Britain that is the most corrupt country on Earth.
Saviano, who faces daily threats to his life, exposed the murderous world and criminal networks of the Italian mafia.
The author of bestsellers Gomorra (now also a gritty TV drama and film) and ZeroZeroZero made a rare appearance at the Hay Literary Festival, with a number of bodyguards.
He told the audience that financial institutions allow criminal capitalism to thrive through offshore holdings. Saviano believes voting to leave the EU, would mean Britain would be become even more embroiled in organsied crime and laundering dirty money.
He said: “If I asked you what is the most corrupt place on Earth you might tell me well it’s Afghanistan, maybe Greece, Nigeria, the South of Italy and I will tell you it’s the UK.
“It’s not the bureaucracy, it’s not the police, it’s not the politics but what is corrupt is the financial capital. 90 per cent of the owners of capital in London have their headquarters offshore.
“Jersey and the Cayman’s are the access gates to criminal capital in Europe and the UK is the country that allows it. That is why it is important why it is so crucial for me to be here today and to talk to you because I want to tell you, this is about you, this is about your life, this is about your government.
“Leaving the EU means allowing this to take place. It means allowing the Qatari societies, the Mexican cartels, the Russia Mafia to gain even more power and HSBC has paid £2 billion Euros in fines to the US government, because it confessed that it had laundered money coming from the cartels and the Iranian companies. We have proof, we have evidence.”
After he wrote Gomorra, in which he named members if the organised crime syndicate, he received numerous death threats an a plot was uncovered to kill him with a homemade explosive.
Saviano said: “I was 26 years old when I got myself into this situation and I could not imagine that it would end like this because many books have been written on the Mafia, but it was my book that made them so angry.
“I consider myself lucky that I was not killed. When you start telling these stories you know that your life is at stake, you know you might be killed, but what scares you the most is defamation.”