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Anti-mafia police close top Rome restaurant, arrest owner

IANS | Rome |

Police on Tuesday closed down a renowned fish restaurant in central Rome, arrested its owner for alleged money laundering and fraudulently registering property, and seized a series of his assets.

Besides the upscale Assunta Madre restaurant's owner, his sons, the director of a Rome branch of the Banca del Fucino and a tax adviser were arrested in the operation on the orders of Rome anti-mafia prosecutors, police said.

Located in Rome's exclusive Via Giulia, the Assunta Madre is frequented by showbiz personalities and soccer players and charges diners upwards of 200 euros per head for a meal.

The restaurant's owner had invested laundered money in franchises he had opened in Milan, London and Barcelona and was planning to start one in Montecarlo according to investigators.

He registered all the Assunta Madre restaurants in the names of people who had no other assets as well as a string of properties he bought to launder money, investigators said.

The man has previous convictions for mafia association, extortion, usury and crimes against property, police said.

Tuesday's operation came after investigators probed bank accounts and money flows linked to the various Assunta Madre restaurants and other assets purchased by the suspect, according to police.