According to EPPO 2021 Annual Report, as of November 20, 2017, 4006 crime reports have been registered and analysed, 929 investigations have been initiated, and several asset freezing orders have been issued, for the sum of 259 million. With regard to Italy, the data report 102 ongoing investigations, 40 million euros seized (out of 147.3 million euros in total), only one trial pending as of December 2021, and no final conviction decisions.
Most of these investigations seem to be related to Banking and Financial Authorities, due to the fact that, according to Article 22 Reg. 2017/1939, which refers in full to Dir. 2017/1371, EPPO’s function is the criminal protection of the EU’s financial interests and concerns (i) Frauds consisting in the use of false statements and documents, including cross-border frauds involving damages greater than €10,000,000 and laundering the proceeds of frauds; (ii) active and passive bribery of public officials and the related embezzlement, and instigation, aiding and abetting of the crimes just mentioned; (iii) offences related to participation in a criminal organisation (from mere membership to direction), when the activity has as its main objective the commission of frauds and other offences under the PIF Directive.
To better understand the impact of EPPO’s investigations with reference to Banking and Financial Authorities, it is likewise essential to analyse EPPO’s jurisdiction. The final text of the Regulations approved by the Council of Ministers in Italy provides for concurrent jurisdiction between the EPPO and the National Prosecutors’ Offices.
Although, EPPO’s jurisdiction is limited in two cases: if (i) the maximum sanction provided for by national law for an offence falling within the scope of Article 22 is equal to or less severe than the maximum sanction for an inextricably linked offence as referred to in Article 22 unless the latter offence has been instrumental to commit the offence falling within the scope of Article 22; or (ii) there is a reason to assume that the damage caused or likely to be caused, to the Union’s financial interests by an offence as referred to in Article 22 does not exceed the damage caused, or likely to be caused to another victim (Article 25, § 3 of Reg. 2017/1939).
Article 25 § 6 of EU Reg. 2017/1939 provides that the National Authority in charge of deciding on the allocation of competences domestically establishes which Office is competent to carry out investigations. The system of division of power is mobile and flexible and can fit the specific needs of the concrete case, based on a criterion of subsidiarity.
We are also going to deepen relations between investigations carried on by EPPO and Banking and Financial Authorities. A matter of fact several crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of EPPO can be committed through financial institutions, primarily money laundering. Thus, the cooperation between EPPO and supervisory authorities is a key tool for gathering information about these crimes.
Daniele Alessandro Luison