Whenever employees are under suspicion of having committed a criminal or administrative offense, the company often also gets in the focus of the investigating authorities.  Along with that comes a risk of fines and asset confiscations. A good defence of a company is characterized not only by an active rebuttal of the allegations against its employees and leadership, but also by a special consideration for the interests of the company beyond the investigation proceedings.

In August 2019, the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection ("Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz") presented a draft bill for an Associations Sanctions Act ("Verbandssanktionengesetz" - VerSanG), which shall complement the German Criminal Code ("Strafgesetzbuch" - StGB) and the German Administrative Offences Act ("Gesetz über Ordnungswidrigkeiten" - OWiG). Associations within the meaning of this statute are legal entities under public and private law as well as judicable partnerships and unincorporated associations.

Because of this fundamental revision of the law on sanctions against associations, the defence of companies will gain enormously in importance. Especially since the present draft bill obliges the prosecuting authority to initiate proceedings against companies in all cases of probable cause. Furthermore, a considerable expansion of the possible sanctions is planned: according to the current draft bill, sanctions will range from (turnover-based) monetary sanctions to entries in a sanctions register to public announcements of violations. We have summarized details on the status of the legislative process and the planned regulations in an FAQ (in German), which is updated regularly.

If companies become the victim of a criminal offense, the situation often calls for more than just the filing a criminal complaint. In criminal proceedings, the injured party is entitled to various procedural rights of its own, such as the right to claim for damages incurred in criminal proceedings or recovering damages from seized assets.



Dr. Rainer Frank

Dr. David Albrecht