Corporate criminal law occupies a special place within the commercial criminal law. Although criminal proceedings against a legal person are not possible in the classical sense, the company can nevertheless be held responsible if its organs or employees suspect that they have criminally culpable behaviour.
Substantial corporate fines, profit collection, damages and entries in public registers are conceivable here.
However, in view of the fact that such sanctions against the company are only possible if “the company” contributed to the fault of the employee due to poor organization – which is quickly assumed by the investigating authorities – this is already the first defence approach.
At the same time, however, the objective of the defence must be to create a communication basis between companies and investigating authorities in the concrete procedure, which ensures optimal strategic monitoring of the procedure. If criminal offences emerge within internal audits, the lawyer can advise the company in this situation as well.
It is important to consider how to deal with the information provided by the audit, in particular whether there is an obligation to forward it to the investigating authorities. As a result of this consultation, the company’s external lawyer has a professional right to refuse to give evidence to the investigating authorities, which is usually not the case for the company’s legal department. The lawyer must not and may not pass on the knowledge gained to the investigating authorities in the case of his testimony.