A plan to waiver regulations to speed up the reconstruction process “also entails the waiver of the antimafia code”, ANAC’s president Raffaele Cantone told a lower house of parliament hearing.

“I don’t think it is necessary to stress the intrinsic risks in this omission, above all because there are many activities linked to the reconstruction, from the movement of earth to the disposal of rubbish, in which mafia companies, unfortunately, have undoubted know-how,” he said.

Cantone also noted that the commissioner tasked with overseeing the construction of a new viaduct to replace the Morandi bridge was assigned “unprecedented” powers.

The decades-old viaduct was destroyed in a storm, collapsing onto railway tracks along with dozens of vehicles.

The government has been criticised for moving too slowly with the bridge’s reconstruction process.

Cantone said the mafia – which is rooted in southern Italy – was “looking to infiltrate” wealthier areas in the north, including the region of Liguria.

He added that “a very high barrier against this risk is therefore necessary”.

Italian authorities suspect the ’Ndrangheta clan in particular is using legitimate activities in the north to recycle the massive amount of money that their illicit drugs business generates.