Thursday, February 2

PSOE and ERC reach an agreement to reduce the penalties for non-profit embezzlement

The PSOE and ERC have channeled the reduction of embezzlement and have agreed that the new Penal Code punishes with up to three or four years in prison, compared to eight in the current one, the crime in cases where there is no profit motive. This is stated in the compromise amendment that both groups have registered in Congress.

The new Penal Code redesigns the crime of embezzlement after the PP, in 2015, raised and equalized the penalties both for cases in which public funds were stolen for private uses and those in which the money was used for public spending, but prohibited or different than expected.

With the new wording of the Criminal Code, the most serious embezzlement remains punishable by up to eight years in prison and up to 20 years of disqualification. But the conduct that it punishes is limited to the “for profit” appropriation of public patrimony.

The PSOE and ERC introduce two new articles to punish other types of embezzlement: the first punishes the authority or official who “without the intention of appropriating” public property, allocates it to “private uses”. This guy is sentenced to six months to three years in prison and disqualification from one to four years. But if the “distracted elements of public property” are not returned within ten days of the start of the case, it can be punished with up to eight years in prison, the same as embezzlement for profit.

The third article of the new Penal Code regarding embezzlement will punish the authority or official who gives public property “a public application different from the one for which it was intended.” In this case, the sentences may range from one to four years in prison and disqualification from two to six years if there is a “serious damage or hindrance to the public service”, but the convicted person will avoid jail time and may only be disqualified from one to three years and pay a fine if the judge considers that public property has not been seriously damaged.

Despite the fact that the text is agreed upon and common to both groups, PSOE and ERC make different interpretations of how it could affect different cases, such as the leaders of the process that have already been tried. For the Socialists, the 1-O referendum is in no case decriminalized, but rather they would face a sentence of up to four years, corresponding to the maximum degree introduced for non-profit crimes of embezzlement.

On the other hand, ERC sources consider that, although their charges have not committed any crime, in any case, the Justice could apply the third of these articles on embezzlement and to a lower degree, so that the sentences could be in a disqualification and fine. In the worst case, these sources add, the prison sentence would be from 1 to 4 years and not from 8 to 12, as is currently the case when the most aggravated type is applied.

The negotiation between the two groups on the crimes of embezzlement has been channeled thanks to a compromise amendment agreed upon despite the unchecking of United We Can, which this Monday announced that it is not part of the reform talks, although it will not oppose its approval. PSOE and ERC consider that with the new wording they spin a fine line to avoid unexpected surprises and that people accused of corruption schemes benefit from the reform.