The crime vs the privilege
A forefront reform shakes the Italian
criminal law system
Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton LLP, Rome, Italy
Purpose – This paper aims to explain the pros and cons of the crime of self-laundering and of the
voluntary discovery rule in light of the recent reform of the Italian criminal law system. More
specically, it focuses on the Italian anti-money laundering legislation as introduced by law no. 186 of
15 December 2014 that has dismissed the privilege of self-laundering.
Design/methodology/approach – To reach such an aim, a comparative approach has been adopted,
focusing rst on the crime of money laundering as previously described by Article 648 bis of the Italian
Criminal Code and on the reasons underlying the adoption of the so-called privilege clause and,
subsequently focusing on its discipline in a common law system, the USA. Afterwards, there is the
analysis of the above mentioned reform, focusing on the ratio of the new crime of self-laundering to
tackle nancial crimes and allow capital return from abroad.Nevertheless, considering how recent the
reform is, the absence of case law on the subject has made it difcult to well evaluate its implications.
Findings – The analysis shows how Article 648 bis of the Italian Criminal Code has been the safeguard
against self-laundering incriminations.
Originality/value – Therefore, it points out the importance of the reform in light of the concerns
stemming from the privilege of self-laundering (for example, propagating the effects of the crime of
self-laundering). In addition, it highlights the importance of a strict interpretation of the new crime to
assure its compatibility with the criminal law principles of legality and fragmentation.
Keywords Anti-money laundering, Self-laundering
Paper type General review
The purpose of this paper is to look at the Italian anti-money laundering legislation,
focusing on its recent developments and on the dismissal of the self-laundering privilege
due to law no. 186 of 15 December 2014.
In particular, the author will look at the introduction of the crime of self-laundering
and at the voluntary discovery rule. They constitute the two main prongs of the
above-mentioned legislation, whose ratio is to tackle nancial crimes and to allow
capital return from abroad.
In light of this, the author will rst focus on the crime of money laundering pursuant
to Article 648 bis of the Criminal Code and to the reasons underlying the adoption of the
so-called privilege clause. Afterwards, there will be the analysis of the new law, with
particular emphasis on the introduction of the new crime of self-laundering and on its
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.19 No. 4, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited