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Clarification around corporate criminal responsibility in Spain

An effective compliance plan is vital for corporations and their administrators if they are to avoid criminal responsibility in the event of a crime.  

In 2010, Spain reformed its criminal code so that Spanish corporations are now held responsible for crimes committed on behalf of and for their benefit by administrators, managers or employees. Criminal responsibility previously fell upon the person who had committed the crime, but under the reforms administrators are held personally liable for a criminal offence, regardless of whether they had any part in it. 

The reformed code said that if a corporation had an effective system in place for preventing and detecting offences, then criminal responsibility was reduced for the corporation and its administrators. But the terms were somewhat vague and difficult to apply.

Effective compliance plan

In 2015 an amendment to the criminal code clarified the position: if the corporation has an approved and effective compliance plan in place before an offence occurs, then the responsibility of corporations and their administrators is reduced or eliminated.

The state’s attorney has now issued an official notification with specific instructions for assessing the effectiveness of compliance plans so that they exonerate the corporation and its administrators from any criminal responsibility in the event of a criminal act.

Now that the rules are clearer it is important for Spanish corporations and their administrators to implement a compliance system that meets the requirements under this notification and which is suited to the size and characteristics of the corporation.

For more information, contact:

Santos Morueco or Antonio Perez
Audalia Laes Nexia, Spain
T: +34 91 443 0000
E: s.morueco@audalialaesnexia.com
E: a.perez@audalialaesnexia.com  
www.audalialaesnexia.com 

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