New rules on the criminal liability of companies
The bill on the liability of collective entities for acts not permitted under the penalty prepared by the Minister of Justice of Poland appeared in May 2018 on the website of the Government Legislation Center. It introduces new rules on the liability of legal persons and organizational units without legal personality, including commercial companies with the participation of the State Treasury and local government units (collective entities) for committing offenses and public finances offenses.
Extending the scope of responsibility
The new law extends the basis of liability of collective entities by resigning from the requirement of obtaining a previous conviction of a natural person who is the direct perpetrator of a prohibited act. In addition, according to the bill, the liability of a collective entity may also take place if there is no specific natural person was identified as the perpetrator of the offense. All investigating authority should do is prove the fact of committing an offense by a natural person.
Not only the intentional action may be a condition of the collective entity’s responsibility, but also failure to exercise due caution required under the circumstances by thecorporate body, member of the body or person acting on behalf of or for the benefitof the entity.
Assigning responsibility to a collective entity under the new regulations will require a total of two conditions to be met:
– the offense committed is related to the activities carried out by the collective entity and
– the collective entity obtained benefits as a result of committing a prohibited act.
At the same time, the liability of a collective entity arises not only as a result of the activities of the body or its members, but also the employee, proxy or commercial proxy of a collective entity.
Cash fines imposed on collective entities will be increased. The minimum penalty will be 30,000 PLN, while the amount of the maximum fine will increase to the amount of PLN 30,000,000, and the existingunder the current regulationsupper limit of the penalty of 3% of income earned by the entity in the previous financial year, will be abolished.
Thebill also provides for following sanction measures:
– the possibility of liquidation or dissolution of a collective entity,
– an obligation to return public funds, including funds of international organizations, of which Poland is a member, obtained as financial support received from the moment of committing a prohibited act until a ruling on the liability of a collective entity is issued,
– a ban on conducting specific activities,
– a ban on applying for a public contract,
– other measures.
If the act is passed, its provisions will come into force three months after the day of announcement.
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