Article Italy: New Anti-Corruption Legislation Comes into Force

(Feb. 26, 2019) On January 31, 2019, new legislation introducing amendments to the Italian Criminal Code aimed at preventing and punishing corruption involving public agencies entered into force. (Law No. 3 of January 9, 2019, Measures to Combat Crimes Against the Public Administration, as well as on the Statute of Limitations for Crimes and the Transparency of Political Parties and Movements) (Law No. 3), GAZZETTA UFFICIALE [G.U.], Jan. 16, 2019, G.U. website (in Italian); CRIMINAL CODE, as amended through Aug. 25, 2017, Attorney General of the Republic at the Court of Appeal of Trento website (in Italian).).

Offenses Against the Public Treasury Committed by Public Employees

Concerning the civil consequences of crimes that affect public property committed by a public official, the new legislation provides that the convicted felon must pay monetary reparation to the public treasury consisting of an amount equivalent to the profit generated by the crime or the amount the felon unduly received. (Law No. 3, art. 1(1)(g).)

Broadening the Definition of Corruption-Related Crimes

The new Law expands existing crimes related to corruption activities to include those who, exploiting or boasting of an existing or alleged relationship with a public official, improperly give or promise to give to others money or other benefits in return for the illicit intervention of the official, or who provide or promise to provide a remuneration in return for the exercise of the official’s functions or powers. (Id. art. 1(1)(t)(1).)

Additionally, the Law adds members of international courts and international parliamentary assemblies or international organizations to the members of international public organizations listed in the existing provisions as being punishable for the crimes of speculation, bribery, undue inducement to the giving or promising of benefits, corruption, and instigation to corruption. (Id. art. 1(1)(o)(l)–(2).)

Mitigating Circumstances

New mitigating circumstances are established for public agencies that, prior to the sentencing of first instance in corruption-related cases, take steps to ameliorate the effects of the crime. (Id. art. 1(9)(b)(3).) These measures include efforts to prevent the criminal activity from being carried out further, keeping evidence of the crime, taking measures for the identification of the perpetrators or for the sequestration of the amounts or other benefits already transferred,  eliminating organizational deficiencies that facilitated the crime, and implementing organizational changes to prevent future crimes. (Id.)

New Counting of Statute of Limitations and Rehabilitation

The Law also clarifies when the statute of limitations to bring criminal actions begins running. For consummated crimes, the statute of limitations begins on the day of consummation; for attempted crimes, on the date of cessation of the criminal activity; and for permanent or continued crimes, on the date that the permanence or continuation ceased. (Id. art. 1(1)(d).)

The law also provides with respect to rehabilitation of convicted persons that within seven years from the rehabilitation, certain punishments may be expunged from the records when the convicted person has provided effective and certain evidence of good conduct. (Id. art. 1(1)(i).)

Additional Penalties Imposed on Political Parties and Movements for Corruption-Related Crimes

Political parties and movements involved in corruption-related crimes are forbidden from receiving contributions, benefits, or other forms of support from foreign governments or public agencies and from entities established in a foreign state that are not subject to tax obligations in Italy. (Id. art. 1(12).)

New Transparency and Disclosure Obligations in Electoral Processes

Within two weeks prior to electoral contests of any type in all municipalities with at least 15,000 inhabitants, political parties and movements must publish on their own internet sites the curricula vitae of their candidates and the certificates issued by the respective judicial registers providing their criminal background. (Id. art. 1(14).) The curriculum vitae and criminal certificates (which must be issued no later than 90 days prior to the date of the electoral event) must also be published in an appropriate section called “Transparent Elections” on the internet site of the institution directly connected with the election, or on the site of the Ministry of the Interior concerning the elections of members of the National Parliament or the European Parliament coming from Italy. (Id. art. 1(15).)

The concept of political parties and movements encompasses foundations, associations, or committees whose executive organs are appointed wholly or in part by political parties and movements or by persons who are or have been, within the previous ten years, members of the National Parliament, the European Parliament, or regional or local electoral assemblies, or those who hold or have held, in the previous ten years, government appointments at the national, regional, or local levels, or institutional appointments based on their membership in political parties or movements, among other grounds. (Id. art. 1(20).)

Political parties or movements that violate the new restrictions related to transparency and the fight against corruption are subject to administrative fines between three and four times the amount of the contribution, benefits, or other forms of financial support involved. (Id. art. 1(21).)

Government Commission to Monitor Compliance with the New Legislation

The new Law charges the Commission for Transparency and Control of Statements of Political Parties and Movements with verifying the compliance of the aforementioned new provisions related to transparency and corruption. (Id. art. 1(26).)

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