There will be no more Monopoly-style “Get out of jail free” cards for the corrupt, Renzi announced in a video message.
“Finally in Italy: those who rob, pay,” the premier said, announcing four proposed changes to the penal code.
The minimum penalty for corruption will be increased from four to six years, with those guilty obliged to serve a prison term.
“In Italy there are around 50,000 people in prison. For corruption, there are 257. I find this unacceptable.
“It’s incomprehensible that through a plea bargain someone always ends up out of prison,” Renzi said.
The time limit attached to the statute of limitations will also be changed, to give prosecutors more time to get accused criminals in the dock. The current limit has benefited politicians such as Silvio Berlusconi, who in 2012 was cleared of corruption after a court ruled the alleged bribe had happened too long ago.
Under Renzi’s proposals, which will be presented to parliament on Thursday, prosecutors will have greater powers over the criminals’ finances.
“Ill-gotten gains must be given back,” he said. “It’s not that they can give back a part; ‘I robbed €10 million and I’ll pay back €1 million.’ If the corruption is proven, you pay back to the last cent.”
Seizing the assets of those convicted of corruption will also be simpler under the new rules, the prime minister said.
“They are small things that hint the wind has changed. Who robs, who corrupts, will be prosecuted to the last day and to the last cent,” Renzi said.
His announcement came a week after 37 people were arrested and 100 put under investigation for widespread corruption in Rome.
Former mayor Gianni Alemanno is among those accused of being part of a mafia-type organization which siphoned off millions of euros of state funds. The Italian capital went into visible decline as the group allegedly infiltrated city hall to pocket money from essential public services.
Watch the video of Renzi’s announcement (in Italian):