The Italian DPA has imposed fines totalling over 11 million euros on five money transfer companies which had unlawfully processed more than one thousand users’ personal data in order to bypass anti money-laundering regulations.
These companies collected and transferred to China sums of money belonging to Chinese businessmen, violating both the anti money-laundering law and the data protection law. By using the technique of structuring (i.e. the technique of breaking up large amounts of money into several smaller transactions below the anti money-laundering legal threshold), companies allocated money transfers to more than 1,000 customers, who were completely unaware of these transactions, by illegally using their data.
These serious violations came to light during an investigation by the Procura di Roma (the Rome Public Prosecutor’s Office). The Currency Police Unit of the Italian Financial Police, authorised by the Judicial Authorities, ascertained that the names of the people these money transfers were registered to did not correspond to the real senders. In addition, in certain cases the transaction forms turned out not even to have been signed or to have been filled out by people who were either deceased or non-existent. The personal data used were taken from photocopies of id documents, which were stored in specific folders to be used when needed. Money transfers were carried out within seconds of each other and involved sums of money which were just under the legal threshold and addressed to the same recipient.
Due to this infringement of the Data Protection Law committed by the companies, the Italian Data Protection Authority was obliged to intervene and, in view of the seriousness of the violations, the number of parties involved whose personal data had been processed without their consent and the importance (and size) of the database, has imposed the following fines: 5,880,000 euros for the multinational corporation and fines of 1,590,000 euros, 1,430,000 euros, 1,260,000 euros and 850,000 euros respectively for the other four companies, for a total of over 11 million euros.