The Mafia, Volkswagen, Sports Betting and the Manipulations in Medicine – How Can One Avoid, Identify and Pursue Crime in / from Organizations?

57 October 2017, International Symposium on Bribery, Fraud, CheatingHow to Explain and to Avoid Organizational Wrongdoing at Herrenhausen Palace in Hannover

By Markus Pohlmann

How is the Mafia actually doing in Germany? The answer has been the same for many years: it is prospering. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), more than 500 members of the Italian mafia are currently active. According to the BKA, Germany is mainly used by the Italian mafia in such areas as drug crime, counterfeit crime, money laundering and corporate crime, but also serves as a retreat and investment area.
Source: Pixabay


Germany – A Paradise for Mafiosi?

And why is the Italian Mafia doing so well in Germany? On the one hand, although it is called organized crime, the mafia itself is not an organization. The membership rules are different. One cannot apply for a position. Acceding to the mafia is nothing more than a ritual but there is no exit option, except a mortal one or an escape into a witness protection program. The Mafiosi must be available at any moment and have to vow unconditional obedience. Vendetta and violence are important ingredients of the association, which bribe, threaten and even murder anyone who tries to resist racketeering. Thus, policemen, prosecutors, judges as members of modern organizations have difficulties to fight against the archaic associations of the mafia. After all, who is willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families for a thankless job with an ordinary salary? (see Pohlmann 2016: 23-31). On the other hand, not only are high legal barriers to prosecution important reasons for Mafia’s success, but also the great difficulties to identify the Mafia, who is operating in legal fields in an increasingly more professional manner. According to Italy’s renowned Mafia-hunter Roberto Scarpinato, members of the new generation of criminals of the Italian Mafia now also include lawyers, financial advisers and bankers. They feed the clans‘ money into the legal money cycle. And once you have one of the mafiosi in the dock, the star laywers are not far from bailing him out again. The journalist and writer Petra Reski already reported in 2010 in her eye-catching book “From Kamen to Corleone” on the dubious activities of the “honorable society” in Germany. The mafia membership itself is not a criminal offense in Germany, unlike in Italy. In Germany, the law enforcement agencies have to prove, with great effort, that a mafioso has acquired his millions illegally; otherwise he may resume his criminal luxury life, after serving his often short sentence. It is the other way round in Italy and the USA. The suspect’s fortune will be seized if he cannot prove how he got it. As early as 2013, the German Federal Government had announced the reversal of the burden of proof. But as long as the reform fails, suspected mafia members are still doing well. But the journalists, such as Petra Reski, who report on them, are not. Again and again they have to face litigations.

Some Highlights of the Conference

If you would like to get to know Roberto Scarpinato and Petra Reski, you can grab the chance during our conference from 5 to 7 October 2017 at Herrenhausen Palace in Hanover. We cordially invite you to this symposium at Herrenhausen Palace, to be attended by an internationally high-profile cast and is dedicated to the subject of “Bribery, Fraud, Cheating – How to Explain and to Avoid Organizational Wrongdoing“. The Volkswagen Foundation is holding this conference together with the Max Weber Institute for Sociology, headed by Prof. Dr. Markus Pohlmann and Prof. Dr. Gerhard Dannecker (Institute for German, European and International Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law), Prof. Dr. Dieter Dölling and Prof. Dr. Dieter Hermann (both from Institute of Criminology) in Hanover. The symposium is a contribution to the explanation of the recent “corruption and manipulation epidemic”, as well as to shedding light on the possibilities of avoiding such cases in the future.

The first session, on 5 October, serves to distinguished organized crime from corporate crime. Other sessions deal with the political turmoil in Brazil and China, triggered by the new phase of the combat against corruption. Top lawyers, prominent prosecutors and judges report their fight against corruption. With Volkswagen, Siemens and Deutsche Bank, Germany, Europe and the USA are also making scandalous contributions to the theme of the symposium. The emissions scandal, the Libor scandal and other cases of corruption and manipulation will be discussed on Friday, 6 October. Top attorneys, former top managers and academics, will be probing cases and discussing ways to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

But it is not only in the economy that corruption goes viral. Sport is also an El Dorado for criminal associations and crime in or by sports organizations. From an inside view of the prosecution in the FIFA corruption affair to the problems of combating money laundry in football and through sports betting, current scandals and their prosecution are discussed. On Saturday, 7 October, the symposium will deal with the manipulations in transplantation medicine and the prevention of corruption in medicine. Finally, leading experts from academia, journalism, NGOs and the judiciary will discuss new ways of preventing crime in or from companies, hospitals, sports associations, etc., which also take into account the dark side of compliance and companies‘ internal investigations.

Programme, registration

Have we piqued your interest? Then you will find here the preliminary programme as well as the access to the registration. The international symposium takes place at Herrenhausen Palace (in Hannover), one of Europe’s most prestigious venues. The catering will be provided by the Volkswagen Foundation. As the number of seats is limited, we ask for your early registration.

Travel Grants for Junior Scientists and Post-Docs

For 15 junior scientists and post-docs, travel expenses allowances are available. For them, there is also an additional programme with science slams and poster sessions. In case a sponsorship is granted, the travel costs, and, if applicable, visa and hotel costs will be borne by the Volkswagen Foundation. Those who are interested can apply directly to the Volkswagen Foundation by 15 July 2017. Please find out more about the Infosheet for Travel Grants.


We are looking forward to your participation and would be happy to answer your questions by e-mail ( or by telephone (++ 49 (0) 6221 54 22 26).

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Markus Pohlmann (2017, 2. Juni). The Mafia, Volkswagen, Sports Betting and the Manipulations in Medicine – How Can One Avoid, Identify and Pursue Crime in / from Organizations? Organizational Crime Stories. Abgerufen am 19. April 2024, von