Vito Palazzolo came to the special attention of Namibian officials and media in March, 2007, when it emerged that his son had been appointed a director of Avilla Investments â€“ a company which held a licence to buy rough diamonds for polishing by another related company, Marbella Investments. The director of these two companies was Zackey Nefungo Nujoma, youngest son of former President of Namibia Sam Nujoma.
Later on the controlling shareholding of Avilla Investments and Marbella Investments as passed to Ocean Diamond Mining Ltd., registered in the British Virgin Islands. Vito Palazzolo controls also some other companies that are domiciled in the BVI; some of these BVI companies presumably have interests in Namibia’s uranium industry, which is rapidly developing now.
The son of the former president said he had no information on his partners’ connections to Mafia. He also denied the breaking of Namibia’s Diamond Act, which actually forbids transfer of shares without the written approval of the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Meanwhile, according to Namibian Diamond Commission, no such approval was ever provided to the BVI companies.
The Commissioner Kennedy Hamutenya informed that licences for the companies were suspended, and all the case was passed over to the Nampol Diamond Branch for further investigation. It also awaked interest of the Organised Crime Unit in the Office of the Prosecutor General, however they could not prosecute the matter before the Organised Crime and Money Laundering Bill is brought before parliament.
In July 2006 Palazzolo was sentenced in absentia by the Palermo Tribunal in Italy to nine years in jail, in terms of Article 416 of the Italian penal code. His Cape Town-based lawyer Norman Schnitzer rejected the verdict on behalf of his client. However, the copy of the original Order of Preventive Detention issued by Judge for Preliminary Investigations of the Court of Palermo on November 26, 1998 confirms that Palazzolo is considered to be the main money launderer of the Cosa Nostra.