These offenses are found in sections 298 to 304 of the Criminal Act (L.O 10/1995, modified by L.O 5/2011). They are often inter-linked; but there are several important differences on how these are prosecuted and punished.
Money laundering schemes are defined as the absorption of goods, money or property gained from criminal activities into profits obtained from legal activities in a way as to conceal the illegal origin. The law includes different types of prosecutions for self-laundering and laundering by a person other than the author of the offence. After the operation the criminals will be able to use legally, the “laundered” assets, in many cases through investments in real estate. It is an activity largely transnational, making the joint work between law enforcement agencies and courts of different countries extremely important. Cooperation in these matters is relying upon international agreements and upon both preventive and coercive measures. They are considered serious offenses as incentive other criminal activities by making them even more profitable and cause a threat for the financial system.
Theft cover is a carryover of a previous crime against property or socioeconomic order. In this case the culprit helped the criminals to conceal or to benefit from the initial crime without having taken part in it but knowing its existence.
Handling of stolen goods is the similar as theft cover, but in this case there is a direct for-profit implication of the perpetrator.
- All these crimes suppose the existence of a previous crime in which the criminals gained a certain amounts of assets.
- The culprit either knows the existence of the previous crime or irresponsibly take the necessary measures to certify the origin either goods or funds.
- The crimes include the acts that constitute the offenses, but also the advice, aiding or procuring.
Section 298 of the Criminal Act, clearly specifies that receiving stolen goods involves a for-profit activity and the initial act must be a crime against property and socioeconomic order. For example if you buy a TV for 100€, knowing that it was stolen, you are directly profiting from the previous crime thus you are the receiver of stolen good.
If a third person forges a false receipt certifying that the seller previously bought the TV in a shop, is doing theft cover.
Fencing and E-fencing are illegal, but to be considered as an offense must demonstrate it by prosecutors, which nowadays is even more complicate as Iinternet auction sites and outlets make difficult to determine what is a fair price.
Section 301 specifies that in money laundering the initial crime can be of any type. Additionally there is no need to prove if the laundering activity is giving a profit or not.
Making the distinction between these three offenses is important, as penalties are different. Receiving stolen goods imply a prison sentence from 6 months to 2 years. If the perpetrator takes advantage of a commercial or industrial activity, he will receive a fine and professional disqualification from two to 5 years.
Theft cover will be instead punished with a prison sentence from 6 months to 1 year. (Section 299). The perpetrator according to circumstances might receive a professional disqualification up to 3 years.
Money laundering will be punished from 6 months to 6 years including a fine corresponding to 3 times the amounts “laundered”, as well as professional disqualification up to 5 years.