Swiss sentence 3 years in prison

The Criminal Court of the Canton of Ticino handed down a sentence of three years imprisonment against Palazzolo, for the aggravated violation of the Federal Law on narcotics. There was no money laundering law then in Switzerland, whose banking was founded on absolute discretion and secrecy. So, under extreme pressure from the US authorities, they shoehorned his case into another law, the Federal Law on narcotics which states that: whoever “finances the illegal trafficking of narcotics or serves as an intermediary in its financing” is punishable.

A lengthy interpretation of the concepts of “financing” and “intermediary” were required in order to substantiate the sentence.

The Court ascertained that until the 30 September 1982 Palazzolo did not act knowingly or intentionally, because even though he harboured doubts and concerns, he did not know that the transferred money could have come from the retail sale of drugs, nor that his clients could have been traffickers.

It was only later, at the beginning of October, when Palazzolo was warned about the FBI’s investigation, that they alleged that Palazzolo had acted with eventual intent in arranging the transfer of US$ 3 million that had already been deposited with Hutton, and another US$ 3 million, which had been collected but not yet deposited. Eventual intent (dolus eventualis)1 is a legal interpretation, pitched somewhere between intent and negligence.

At this point is important to observe that Palazzolo was threatened by the clients to deliver the remaining funds still with Consultfin SA. So he was compelled to transfer the money that he had already received. The court took this into consideration, acknowledging that he had no choice in the matter.2