After Two Long Years in the Works, Italy Gives Nod to Harsher Penalties for Graft

Italy has passed a law that aims to tackle corruption, Reuters reports.

Chamber of Deputies Yesterday, despite stiff opposition, the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved legislation that allows for stricter penalties for graft and balance sheet fraud.

It will increase maximum prison sentences for several forms of corruption. However, the version of the law that has passed is a watered-down version of an original proposal, according to Reuters.

Speaking to the press, Justice Minister Andrea Orlando hailed the new law as “hugely important”, saying it “makes Italy stronger”.

The law was introduced to Italy’s parliament more than two years ago by Senate speaker Piero Grasso, formerly a prosecutor specializing in Mafia crimes.

The bill passed with 280 votes in Italy’s 630-seat Chamber of Deputies with the support of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party. Many legislators for the opposition chose not to vote. Some critics of the bill say it does not go far enough, while others claim it will disrupt business.

Reuters reported that some said the bill would effectively be useless, since officials rarely go to prison in Italy even if they are found guilty of corruption, due to the slow pace and loopholes featured in the Italian judicial system.