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Analysis of the Crime of Self-Laundering and Its Legal Complexities

Crime of Self-Laundering

The crime of self-laundering, incorporated into the Italian legal system under article 648 ter of the penal code by Law 186/2014, establishes the culpability of actions intended to obstruct the identification of the illicit origin of goods or other utilities. This offense is characterized as being committed exclusively by the perpetrator of the original non-negligent crime, which serves as a prerequisite for the self-laundering act. It is consummated instantly when the perpetrator alters or transfers economic, financial, or speculative assets derived from illicit activities.

Features and Nature of the Offense

Subjective and Objective Aspects

Self-laundering is a multi-offensive crime aimed at protecting both the correct administration of justice and the national economic order. The required subjective element is generic intent, meaning the agent must be aware of and intend to obstruct the identification of the illicit origins of the assets. From an objective standpoint, the undertaken actions must be potentially capable of masking this origin.

Differentiation between Self-Laundering and Laundering

Unlike laundering, in self-laundering, the perpetrator of the crime is the same individual who committed the original offense. If the laundering conduct involves a different person, it is simply referred to as laundering.

Penalties and Responsibilities

Violators of this statute face imprisonment ranging from 2 to 8 years, in addition to fines ranging from €2,500 to €12,500. The statute of limitations for the offense expires 8 years after its commission.

Emerging Legal Issues

Involvement of Third Parties

A significant legal issue concerns the involvement of a third party, who is extraneous to the original crime, in the self-laundering process. Jurisprudence has clarified that such a subject would be liable for laundering, not self-laundering, as the latter is limited to the perpetrators of the original crime.

Administrative Responsibility of Entities

In the context of the administrative responsibility of entities (Legislative Decree 231/01), there is a debate as to whether management models should include only the crime of self-laundering or also other non-negligent crimes that could constitute the basis. Jurisprudence emphasizes the need to focus on controlling the lawful origin of economic flows, avoiding an extension to unrelated crimes.

Retroactive Applicability of the Crime

A final critical point is the applicability of the crime of self-laundering when the prerequisite offense was committed before the law came into effect. Both doctrine and jurisprudence agree that it is not possible to retroactively apply the law, in accordance with the constitutional principle of non-retroactivity of criminal laws.


The complexities associated with the crime of self-laundering continue to be the subject of discussion and analysis both in the legal and social spheres, given the importance of these phenomena for protecting the economic order and the proper administration of justice.

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