The first legislative step undertaken by the Italian Parliament to detect money laundering dates back to Decree 59, issued in March 1978 and brought into force by Law 191/1978. The Decree introduced s. 648 bis into the Italian Penal Code; it was entitled ‘Substitution of money or funds deriving from armed robbery, racketeering or kidnapping for reward’. The new offence was based on the structure of s. 648 ‘Handling stolen goods’; the crime was punishable with a sentence of between four and ten years' imprisonment. The introduction of s. 648 bis was required for two reasons: on the one hand, to address the concern arising from the numerous terrorist kidnappings and blackmail occurring in Italy at that time; on the other, to strengthen the criminal repression of the ‘specified unlawful activities’.
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