FIGHT AGAINST ECONOMIC AFFUSISTS
AMENDMENT OF THE PUNISHMENT CODE AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY FOR ECONOMIC OFFICERS
Author: Katarzyna Dawidziuk
The draft amendment of April 5, 2019 (the original draft of January 25, 2019) prepared by the Ministry of Justice regarding amendments to the penal code, provides for the strengthening of criminal liability for many crimes, the introduction of new types of crimes, including acts that until now they were not punished at all. As argued by the Ministry of Justice, penalties must be severe enough to effectively deter crimes, and at the same time be flexible enough to allow for penalties appropriate to the fault. In the context of increasing the "flexibility of penalties", it should be pointed out that the limits of the term imprisonment (from one month to 30 years) should be modified and the 25 years imprisonment, which is a separate kind of penalty, should be waived.
The draft amendment provides for tightening of criminal liability for the crime of material falsehood of documents consisting in altering or forging a document for using it for authentic use or using such a document (Article 270 §1 of the Penal Code), for which a penalty of 3 months to 5 years will be imposed. The same penalty will threaten you to fill in a signature of someone else's form contrary to the will of the signed person and to his / her damage, or use of such a document. To date, both of these acts are punishable by a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment from 3 months to 5 years. Withdrawal from freedom sentences is undoubtedly intended to strengthen the deterrent function of punishments.
By the amendment, the criminal liability for counterfeiting or reworking of an invoice in the scope of factual circumstances that may be of significance for determining the amount of public law receivable or its refund or refunding of another tax-related duty in order to be used as authentic, as well as for using such an invoice as authentic (increased material falsehood of invoices). Criminal liability for issuing an invoice or invoices has also been strengthened, in which it certifies untruth as to the factual circumstances that may be of significance for determining the amount of the public law claim or its refund or refund of other tax claim, as well as the use of such invoice (so-called intellectual false invoices). The amount of the threatening penalty for the above active will depend on the amount of payment indicated on the invoice / invoices. And so according to the amendment, if the value of the invoice or the total value is greater than five times the amount determining the property of great value, and therefore will be greater than PLN 5 million, or if the perpetrator makes the act a permanent source of income - the threat will be from 3 years up to 20 imprisonment. However, if the value of the invoice or the total value is greater than ten times the amount determining the property of great value, and therefore greater than PLN 10 million, you will be entitled to imprisonment from 5 to 25 years.
The bill provides for the differentiation of types of offenses directed against property depending on the value of the subject of the crime. In particular, the crime of theft, newly added crime of theft of payment cards, robbery, but also fraud, computer fraud, misappropriation, fencing, if they are committed in relation to property with a value greater than five times the amount determining the property of great value (i.e. more than PLN 5 million) ) - the perpetrator will be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a term of imprisonment from 3 to 20 years, if in relation to property with a value greater than ten times the amount determining the property of great value (i.e. more than PLN 10 million) - the threat will be from 5 to 25 years imprisonment freedom. The criminal offenses against economic turnover are similar. The crime of abuse of trust, managerial bribery, financial fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering and keeping unreliable documentation committed against property valued at more than five times the amount determining property of great value (greater than PLN 5 million) will be punishable by imprisonment from 3 to 3 20 years, in relation to property with a value greater than ten times the amount determining the property of great value - imprisonment from 5 to 25 years
The proposed changes also apply to the crime of paid protection. According to the amendment, it will be punishable to invoke influence also in a state-owned enterprise and a commercial company with the participation of the State Treasury, local government or a state legal person.
The amendment also provides for a change in the definition of a person discharging a public function. According to the new wording of art. 115 §19 a person discharging a public function will also be persons employed in a domestic or foreign organizational unit disposing of public funds and an international organization of which the Republic of Poland is a member, but also a member of the management board, supervisory board or audit committee, president, director or his deputy, proxy, chief accountant or treasurer performing his positions in a state-owned enterprise, commercial company with the participation of the State Treasury, local government or state legal person, cooperative and national organization.
The Ministry of Justice is of the opinion that the tougher penalties for VAT fraudsters not only brought more revenue to the State Treasury, but also proved that severe penalties give the desired effect. Hence the proposal for the amendment in question, which is part of the "fight against economic swindlers".