This paper examines new research on crimes and punishments in Neapolitan public banks between the 17th and the early 18th centuries. This is a new area of study, based on the archives of the banks, that can explain the failures of these institutions, the lack of controls, and the damages the fraudulent actions caused. The appropriation of the “public good” (money deposited in the banks) was carried out by bank employees whose illicit behavior violated the set of norms common to all Christianity, norms that constituted a solid foundation for the patrimony of trust at the heart of all commercial transactions in the ancien régime. Archival records are used to examine the possible motivations that led to the circumvention of the norms, including lack of economic gratification, a scarcely efficient internal control system, a judicial system that did not apply strict punishments, and marketplace economic factors.

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