CATANIA, Sicily (AP) _ One of Italy's leading industrialists was arrested Tuesday along with at least 35 other suspects investigated for ties between organized crime and business.

At least 36 of 45 suspects named in warrants were arrested in overnight raids, police said.

Many were suspected of carrying out murders and other crimes on the orders of Benedetto ''Nitto'' Santapaola, a longtime fugitive captured last year, the Italian news agency ANSA said.

Among those taken into custody was Gaetano Graci, 67, a Sicilian financier whose industrial interests have included clothing, construction and agriculture.

RAI state television said investigators suspected Graci helped finance some of Santapaola's activities in return for ''protection.''

Much of Tuesday's case grew out of testimony by Mafia turncoat Maurizio Avola, reputedly one of the top hitmen for the mob in the Catania area.

A Sicilian magazine recently reported Avola told investigators that Graci was behind the 1984 killing of a Sicilian journalist who worked for a newspaper the industrialist once controlled, ANSA said.

Graci was also once questioned about a secret trip to Sicily by fugitive banker Michele Sindona, the magazine said. Sindona was later caught and died in 1986 after drinking a poisoned cup of coffee in a prison where he was serving time for bank fraud.