Vito Palazzolo, previously based in the Western Cape, was once viewed as one of the most powerful figures in the Italian Mafia -- the Cosa Nostra -- and was suspected of having ties to top local politicians and police. Now, after decades of chasing, Italian authorities are moving in on money linked to him in South Africa.
An intricate legal saga spanning more than three decades has culminated in Italian authorities starting to seize assets tied to Vito Palazzolo -- and their relentless quest to see him pay up is zooming in on South Africa, which for years offered him sanctuary and shielded him from arrest.
Palazzolo, who also goes by the name Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko, is sometimes referred to as "the Gupta of the '90s" by some in local police and legal circles, given his alleged influence on politicians back then.
In the mid-'90s he was suspected of having National Party and ANC figures in his pocket.
Based in Western Cape at the time, he was also suspected of having several controversial local characters working as foot soldiers for the Cosa Nostra, including rumoured intelligence operative and nightclub security kingpin Cyril Beeka.
These individuals were in turn suspected...