21/03/2017 - The OECD Working Group on Bribery commends Italy for the adoption of a Bill on 15 March, by the Italian Senate, which, if adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, would significantly extend the statute of limitations to allow more time to prosecute and sanction foreign bribery cases. The Bill was adopted by the Senate after a “Confidence vote” was submitted by the Italian Government in order to speed-up the adoption process as the Bill had been pending before the Senate for two years. The Working Group welcomes the steps taken by Italy to address the issue of its limitation period in foreign bribery cases. Italy should now ensure that this Bill is promptly adopted by the Chamber of Deputies, which is the last step in the parliamentary process before the Bill may finally be adopted.
Over the last ten years, the Working Group on Bribery has regularly urged Italy to extend its limitation period to ensure that foreign bribery is not in practice immune from sanction in Italy. While alleged foreign bribery offences are actively investigated and prosecuted in Italy, most cases have ultimately been dismissed as time barred.
The Bill proposes introducing the ability to suspend the statute of limitations at trial after both a first instance and an appeal decision. Additional suspension would also apply in the case of a request for Mutual Legal Assistance. It would increase the maximum limitation period from 12 and a half years to 18 and a half years and as a result alleviate this long standing concern of the Working Group.
The Working Group therefore strongly encourages Italy to urgently proceed with the adoption of the pending Bill to finalise the reform of its Statute of limitations. This would support Italy’s commitments to actively enforce the Convention, noting also the successful presidency by Minister Orlando of the OECD Anti-Bribery Ministerial Meeting of March 2016.
For more information on the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Italy, please refer to: http://www.oecd.org/corruption/.