Italian corporations are subject to criminal liability arising from legislative decree 231 of 2001: more on the topic can be found here.
“231 crimes” triggering such liability are already a vast and varied list of crimes. They are not limited to corruption crimes, but range from manslaughter due to breach of safety on the workplace provisions to corporate crimes and tax crimes.
Nonetheless, the list of “231 crimes” continues to grow.
Effective on July 30, 2020 new crimes will be added, as law 75 of 2020 will come into force. The new crimes are mostly further nuances of the tax crimes, as well as new crimes (fraud in public supplies, fraud in agriculture and smuggling, misappropriation and abuse of office).
It’s time for companies to update their organizational models again! (Perhaps enjoy your well deserved summer vacation first: it has been quite a year).
As a result of the so called “PIF Directive”, starting from July 2019 criminal corporate liability under Italian law 231 may be triggered by tax crimes, too.
(If you are not overly familiar with the principles of Italian 231 legislation on criminal liability of corporate entities, perhaps you may start here.)
Under Italian 231 law, corporations are subject to criminal (rather, quasi-criminal) liability when certain specific crimes are committed in their interest or to their advantage. So far, such crimes have never included tax crimes, although the issue had been widely debated and several court decisions had attempted to combine other types of crimes with tax crimes (the Supreme Court had always disagreed, though).
Now, the PIF Directive, which Member States must implement by July 6, 2019, “establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions with regard to combatting fraud and other illegal activities affecting the Union’s financial interests, with a view to strengthening protection against criminal offences which affect those financial interests.” Liability of legal entities must be foreseen by national legislation and serious offenses against the common VAT system must be punished.
The Italian legislator will thus need to introduce such serious VAT crimes (i.e., having a value in excess of 10 million euros) in the list of crimes triggering corporate liability. This, in fact, may open the door to other tax crimes as a basis of 231 liability of corporate entities.