Corporate Criminal Liability

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Sanctioning the company

Under Swiss law, companies (legal entities under private law, corporations, sole proprietorships and legal entities under public law, with the exception of territorial corporations) may be subject to criminal prosecution and conviction.

This will be the case when the defective organization of the company results in the impossibility of identifying the natural person who committed the offence. The company will then be punished instead of the individual( subsidiaryliability ).

This will also be the case when the company’s lack of organization allows the realization of certain precisely determined offences, such as corruption, money laundering or financing of terrorism. The company will then be sanctioned alongside the individual who committed the offence( primaryliability ).

The criminal prosecution of a company is particularly technical and requires specific knowledge. The lawyers at penalex are able to provide sound advice and immediate assistance in these complex proceedings. penalex also offers training for companies in order to learn about and prevent the realization of risks that may lead to criminal liability for the legal entity.

Our lawyers are also developing a research activity in this field, as Ludovic Tirelli is in charge of teaching the module “criminal liability of legal entities” in the framework of the MAS in the fight against economic crime (HE-ARC).

Key points

  • Primary corporate responsibility only for the offences of criminal organization (260ter StGB), financing of terrorism (260quinquies StGB), money laundering (305bis StGB), failure to exercise due diligence in financial transactions (305ter StGB), active bribery (322ter StGB), granting of an advantage (322quinquies StGB), active bribery of foreign public officials (322septies StGB), and active private bribery (322 octies StGB)
  • Subsidiary liability: for all criminal code offences
  • Penalty: fine of up to 5 million francs
  • Other possible measure: compensatory claim (70 CP)