Guardia di Finanza

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Finance Guard
Guardia di Finanza
CoA Guardia di Finanza.svg
Coat of arms of the Guardia di Finanza, depicting the Cimon della Pala
Motto Nec Recisa Recedit
Does not retreat even if broken
Agency overview
Formed April 8, 1881
Employees 68,134[1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency ITA
Governing body Ministry of Economy and Finances (Italy)
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Rome
Elected officer responsible Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister of Economy and Finance
Agency executive Saverio Capolupo, General Commander

The Guardia di Finanza (Italian pronunciation: [ˈɡwardja di fiˈnantsa]; English: Finance Guard) is an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance and part of the Italian armed forces. The Guard is essentially responsible for dealing with financial crime and smuggling; it has also evolved into Italy's primary agency for suppressing the drugs trade. The Guardia di Finanza maintains over 600 boats and ships and more than 100 aircraft to serve in its mission of patrolling Italy's territorial waters.


The mission and institutional tasks of Guardia di Finanza (short GdF) are stated in the law 189 of April 23, 1959 and 68/2001 and are subdivided into priority ones (preventing, investigating and reporting financial evasions and violations, overseeing the compliance with the provisions of politico-economic interest and surveillance at sea for financial police purposes) and contribution ones (maintaining public order and safety and political-military defense of the borders).

The Guardia di Finanza has around 68,000 policemen (agents, NCOs, and officers). Its policepersons are in service in the Europol and OLAF (European Agency of Fight against the Fraud). Its Latin motto since 1933 is Nec recisa recedit (Italian: Neanche spezzata retrocede, English: Does not retreat even if broken).

Its activities are connected with financial, economic, judiciary and public safety: tax evasion, financial crimes, smuggling, money laundering, international illegal drug trafficking, illegal immigration, customs and borders checks, copyright violations, anti-Mafia operations, credit card fraud, cybercrime, counterfeiting, terrorist financing, maintaining public order, and safety, political and military defense of the Italian borders.

Members have been known to occasionally demand VAT receipts for items from members of the public who have recently bought an item, dined at a restaurant, or otherwise incurred VAT; prior to 2003, failure to produce one could lead to a substantial fine on the customer as well as the seller. [2] As of October 2003, the customer no longer incurs a fine.[3]


Light Troops Legion (1774)[edit]

Guardia di Finanza police in central Rome
Patrol Boat of the Guardia di Finanza

The origins of the Guardia di Finanza date back to October 5, 1774, when the “Light Troops Legion” (Legione truppe leggere) was set up under the King of Sardinia, Victor Amadeus III. This was the first example in Italy of a special corps established and organized for financial surveillance duties along the borders, as well as for military defense.

Customs Guards Corps (1862)[edit]

Once the unification of Italy was completed in 1862, the "Customs Guards Corps" (Corpo delle Guardie doganali) was set up. Its main task was Customs surveillance and co-participation in the Country’s defense during war time.

Corpo della Regia Guardia di Finanza (1881)[edit]

By Law no. 141 dated April 8, 1881, the Customs Guards Corps became the "Corps of the Royal Finance Guard" (Corpo della Regia Guardia di Finanza) whose task was to "impede, suppress and report smuggling activities and any other violation and transgression of financial laws and regulations", and to safeguard the interests of the tax administration, as well as to co-participate in enforcing law and order and public security.

Twentieth century[edit]

By Royal Decree dated July 14, 1907, the Corps was issued 5-point star uniforms to mark its military status, even though the Army’s military discipline regulation was extended to the Guardia di Finanza by Law dated July 12, 1908. The Corps served in the two World Wars and in the War of National Liberation, deserving 18 awards to its War Flag, which had been granted in 1914 to decree the total integration among the Italian Armed Forces.

Subsequently, the Corps took part in numerous rescue operations during serious natural disasters; for this commitment the Corps was decorated with 13 additional civil valor awards.

The re-organization of the police forces in 1919 also affected the Royal Guardia di Finanza. The responsibilities were divided between the Inspector General, who was an Army Officer with the rank of Lieutenant General responsible for military preparation, and the Commanding General, who was a Guardia di Finanza Officer subordinate to the former, but authorized to maintain direct relations with the Minister for ordinary institutional duties and for personnel management. In 1923, the "Investigative Tax Police" was set up as a specialized branch of the Royal Guardia di Finanza. Within a few years, its naval fleet, motor-vehicles and telecommunication structure underwent a complete change; the Statistical Service equipped with a data processing centre, the Air Service and the Canine Service (for anti-drugs checks) were set up. During the same years, the Corps’ general organization was defined pursuant to Law no. 189 dated April 23, 1959, which laid down its institutional tasks, subsequently amended by specific sector provisions assigning certain responsibilities.

Recent history[edit]

Besides the review of its organizational structure, laid out by the issuance of Presidential Decree Law no. 34 dated January 29, 1999, the updating of the Corps’ institutional tasks was completed. Law Decree no. 68, dated March 19, 2001, whilst confirming the Corps’ configuration as a military structure, enhanced its role as a police force having general competence on all economic, financial and judicial matters for the safeguard of the public budget and that of the regions, of the local authorities and of the European Union.

The Guardia di Finanza Historical Museum is custodian of the traditions of the Corps. It preserves artifacts of relevance to the Guardia di Finanza and promotes historical research, to aid researchers, scholars and military history enthusiasts.

Guardia di finanza Agusta A109

Anti-drug operations[edit]

From the statistic data of the anti-drug service central Direction, of the Department of the Interior,the 60% of the drug seized in Italy by all the strengths of law enforcement is found by the Guardia di Finanza. In 2005, the Financial Guard was responsible for 77% of the Heroin seizures, 69% of Cocaine seizures and 54% of cannabis (including Hashish) seizures.

The Chiasso financial smuggling case[edit]

On June 3, 2009 near Chiasso, Switzerland (near the Swiss/Italian border), officers of the Corps detained two Japanese nationals in their 50s who had attempted to enter Switzerland and had in their possession a suitcase with a false bottom containing U.S. Treasury Bonds worth $134.5 billion.[4][5][6] While assessment as to the authenticity of the bonds is on-going, if the bonds prove to be genuine, the Corps will have intervened in the largest single act of smuggling (with respect to financial value) in recorded history.[7]


The Guardia di Finanza utilises a system of rank similar to that of the Italian Army

  • General of Army Corps with special responsibilities - Commandant General (Generale di Corpo d'Armata con incarichi speciali - Comandante Generale) (Lieutenant-General)
  • General of Army Corps - Second-in-Command (Generale di Corpo d'Armata - Comandante in Seconda) (Lieutenant-General)
  • General of Army Corps (Generale di Corpo d'Armata) (Lieutenant-General)
  • Divisional General posted to a higher grade - recorded as such (Generale di Divisione - incarico grado superiore - iscritto in quadro) (Major-General)
  • Divisional General posted to a higher grade - not recorded as such (Generale di Divisione - incarico grado superiore - non iscritto in quadro) (Major-General)
  • Divisional General (Generale di Divisione) (Major-General)
  • Brigade General posted to a higher grade - recorded as such (Generale di Brigata - incarico grado superiore - iscritto in quadro) (Brigadier-General)
  • Brigade General posted to a higher grade - not recorded as such (Generale di Brigata - incarico grado superiore - non iscritto in quadro) (Brigadier General)
  • Brigade General (Generale di Brigata) (Brigadier General)
  • Colonel posted to a higher grade - recorded as such (Colonello - incarico grado superiore - iscritto in quadro) (Senior Colonel/Brigadier)
  • Colonel posted to a higher grade - not recorded as such (Colonello - incarico grado superiore - non iscritto in quadro) (Senior Colonel/Brigadier)
  • Colonel - Corps Commandant (Colonello - Comandante di Corpo) (Colonel-Commandant/Brigadier)
  • Colonel (Colonello)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel posted to a higher grade - recorded as such (Tenente Colonello - incarico grado superiore - iscritto in quadro) (Senior Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel posted to a higher grade - not recorded as such/Corps Commandant (Tenente Colonello - incarico grado superiore - non iscritto in quadro/Comandante di Corpo) (Senior Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel posted to a higher grade - not recorded as such (Tenente Colonello - incarico grado superiore - non iscritto in quadro) (Senior Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Lieutenant-Colonel - Corps Commandant (Tenente Colonello - Comandante di Corpo) (Senior Lieutenant Colonel)
  • Lieutenant Colonel (Tenente Colonello)
  • Major - Corps Commandant (Maggiore - Comandante di Corpo)
  • Major (Maggiore)
  • Captain (Capitano)
  • Lieutenant - Company Commander and Naval Base Commandant when vacant (Tenente - Comandante di Compagnia e Stazione Navale in sede vacante)
  • Lieutenant (Tenente)
  • Second Lieutenant (Sottotenente)
  • Inspector - Lieutenant (Ispettore - Luogotenente) (Conductor/Command Sergeant Major/Warrant Officer)
  • Inspector - Adjutant Marshal(Ispettore - Maresciallo Aiutante) (Warrant Officer Class I/Command Sergeant Major)
  • Inspector - Chief Marshal (Ispettore - Maresciallo Capo) (Warrant Officer Class I/Sergeant Major)
  • Inspector - Ordinary Marshal (Ispettore - Maresciallo Ordinario) (Quartermaster Sergeant/First Sergeant)
  • Inspector - Marshal (Ispettore - Maresciallo) (Warrant Officer Class II/Master Sergeant)
  • Superintendent - Chief Brigadier (Sovrintendenti - Brigadiere Capo) (Staff Sergeant/Sergeant First Class)
  • Superintendent - Brigadier (Sovrintendenti - Brigadiere) (Sergeant/Staff Sergeant)
  • Superintendent - Vice Brigadier (Sovrintendenti - Vice Brigadiere) (Lance Sergeant/Sergeant)
  • Select Appointee (Appuntato scelto) (Corporal)
  • Appointee (Appuntato) (Lance Corporal/Private First Class)
  • Select Revenue Officer (Finanziere scelto) (Private/Private E-2)
  • Revenue Officer (Finanziere) (Private/Private E-1)


Unit awards[edit]

The unit awards, as depicted on the unit coat-of-arms, are:

  • 3 blue and gold ribbons for 3 Gold Medals of Military Valour
  • 4 white and gold ribbons for 4 Silver Medals of Military Valour
  • 1 blue ribbon with VI for six Bronze Medals of Military Valour
  • 1 blue and white ribbon with II for two Crosses of Military Valour
  • 1 green-white-red ribbon with IX for nine Gold Medals of Civil Valour
  • 1 blue and red ribbon, with a cross, for 5 Knight's Crosses of the Military Order of Italy

Awards not included in the coat of arms but are included in its State Color are:

  • 1 Gold Medal of Valor of the Finance Guard (2011)
  • 1 Silver Medal of Civil Valor
  • 9 Gold Medals of Civil Merit
  • 2 separate Medals of Merited Service in Earthquake Relief (1908 and 1915, respectively)
  • 2 Medals of Benemerited Financial Service
  • 6 Gold Medals of Benemerited Service to Education, Culture and the Arts
  • 2 Gold Medals of Benemerited Service to Public Health
  • 2 Gold Medals of Benemerited Service to the Environment
  • 1 Gold Medal of Merit of the Department of Civil Defense
  • 3 Gold Medals of Merit of the Italian Red Cross
  • UN Peacekeeping Medal (for service as part of UNMIK Kosovo 1995-2004)
  • Gold Medal of the Eagle of the Republic of Albania (1997-2005)
  • Military Double Gold Star of Sports Merit (2007)

Special departments[edit]

  • Gruppo di Investigazione Criminalità Organizzata (GICO): Organized Crime Investigation Group.
  • Gruppo Operativo Antidroga (GOA): Counter-narcotics Group
  • Gruppo Anticrimine Tecnologico (GAT): Counter-cybercrime Group
  • Comando Operativo Aeronavale (ROAN): Air-Naval Operational Command
  • Gruppo Tutela Patrimonio Archeologico: Stolen Art Recovery Group
  • Antiterrorismo Pronto Impiego (ATPI): Antiterrorism and Rapid Response Service
  • Servizio Cinofili: Police Dog Division (K9).

Vehicles and equipment[edit]



Guardia di Finanza ATR 42
Guardia di Finanza NH-500

Fixed-wing aircraft:[9]



Mazzei class cutter
Ship Type In service[11]
Zara class Patrol boat 3
P580 class Patrol boat 2
Mazzei class Cutter 2
Corrubia class Cutter 26
Bigliani class Cutter 12
Meattini class Cutter 42
Levriero class Motorboat 13
5500 class Motorboat 82
200 class Motorboat 87
300 class Motorboat 2
5800 class Motorboat
5000 class Speedboat 22
1600 class Speedboat 40
Drago class Speedboat 4
Falco class Speedboat
Giorgio Cini class School ship 1


See also[edit]


  1. ^ (Italian)[1]
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Sequestrati a Chiasso titoli USA per novantasei miliardi di euro". Guardia di Finanza website (in Italian). June 4, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009. [dead link]
  5. ^ Owen, Richard (June 16, 2009). "Japanese pair arrested in Italy with US bonds worth $134 billion". Times Online (London). Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  6. ^ McCarthy, Hannah (June 14, 2009). "$134bn bond scam arrests". The Independent (London). Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  7. ^ "US government securities seized from Japanese nationals, not clear whether real or fake". June 8, 2009. Retrieved June 18, 2009. 
  8. ^ Guardia di Finanza - Ranks
  9. ^ Flotta Aerea Guardia di Finanza
  10. ^ Flotta Aerea Guardia di Finanza
  11. ^ Flotta Navale Guardia di Finanza

External links[edit]