Personal liability of compliance officers
Developments in white collar crime case law and legislation
The significance of criminal law for corporate decision-making has steadily increased in recent years. Spectacular criminal investigations into top-ranking German corporations have provided impressive proof of this. The renewed initiative by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia to introduce corporate criminal liability in Germany highlights a change in awareness: the primary focus of interest is no longer on an individual perpetrator but rather on the company whose wrong “corporate attitude” encouraged the individual to act as he did. Regardless of whether or not this legislative proposal succeeds, investigations are going to focus more and more on companies.
The prevention of white collar crime is also one of the essential aims of compliance systems. Violations of criminal provisions must be prevented, irrespective of whether they are committed under German or foreign law. For the first time, Munich Regional Court ordered a board member to pay damages because an existing compliance system was so poorly structured that it did not adequately prevent corruption offences from being committed. The board of directors cannot, in the Court’s view, delegate responsibility for the organization and fitness-for-use of a compliance system. This sends a clear message to management members that criminal law risks need to be identified and legal developments must be monitored in order to maintain an adequate compliance organization. This is one of the reasons why we would like to keep you regularly informed of important developments in white collar crime case law and legislation both in Germany and abroad.
Practice Group Litigation, Arbitration & ADR