The Sixth Criminal Chamber of the Italian Court of Cassation upheld the appeal lodged by the European Delegated Prosecutor (EDP) of the Palermo office against the order of the Tribunale di Ragusa rejecting the request for the application of the precautionary measure of preventive seizure with a view to confiscation of the sum of EUR 25.000, corresponding to the unlawful European contribution received by an entrepreneur as a measure to support entrepreneurs in financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 emergency, provided for by the Italian Government.

With regard to the undue receipt of payments to the detriment of the European Union, the Court has held that the European Delegated Prosecutor has the power to request or order one of the investigative measures referred to in Article 30 (1) of Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 (EPPO Regulation), including preventive seizure for the purpose of confiscation, direct or equivalent, of the proceeds of the offence under Article 322-ter of the Criminal Code, even where it is less than EUR 100.000,00 and therefore does not constitute the aggravating circumstance referred to in the last sentence of the first paragraph of Article 316-ter of the Criminal Code.

It considered the ground of appeal put forward by the European Delegated Prosecutor to be well founded, thus agreeing with the interpretation of Article 30 (1) of the EPPO Regulation, that there is no functional limit to the request or provision of precautionary measures only where the offence is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least four years. Rather, it should be emphasised in the sense that, at least in that ‘aggravated’ case, investigative measures may be used, leaving the European Delegated Prosecutor discretion to use it in cases of less severe criminal offences.

Author: Ilaria Sticchi

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