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Annulment of the Conviction of the De Jure Director

posted 2 weeks ago

The Supreme Court of Cassation by judgment No. 2885 filed on 23.1.2024 annulled with judicial review the conviction of de jure director, who had been found guilty of complicity with the de facto director in a money laundering crime.

The case.

The appellant had only the formal title of director of a car dealership company, while his uncle was the de facto director and shareholder.

He was found on board a company vehicle that had been stolen, on which the identifying marks were found replaced, i.e. the number plate had been affixed, the chassis number overwritten and the registration documents associated with another vehicle purchased after an accident and then resold by the company in the person of the de facto director.

The fact of experience according to which, usually, the damaged-accident vehicle, when scrap, serves as a tool to recycle stolen vehicles by car dealership companies that use its identifying marks to hinder the identification of the criminal origin of a stolen vehicle and the possession of the stolen vehicle, led to the charge of money laundering against both the directors of the company, who were then convicted in both levels of judgment.

The lower courts justified the conviction of the director based on the mere presumption that he could not have been unaware of the criminal origin of the vehicle as well as of the concealing transactions carried out in the name of the company.

The appeal in cassation.

The director appealed to the Court of Cassation against the conviction, complaining, among other things, of a defective statement of apparent reasons on the point of the presumption of guilt concerning the criminal origin of the vehicle and the concealing operations, and arguing that his knowledge of the unlawful act was not fully proved.

The decision of the Court of Cassation.

The Court of Cassation upheld the defence’s argument, stating that the formal director of a company does not automatically have to answer, by the mere fact of the office held, for offences committed by other persons who have acted within the scope of the company’s activity. The Supreme Court emphasised that his material and moral co-participation in the act, which may also have escaped his notice, must be verified.

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