Spanish companies are criminally liable for their international activities.

Companies and their businesses have long since ceased to be local, not even companies that think they live in a domestic environment do so, because don’t they operate with other companies in their national market that are from abroad? Or even many of them do not sell or deal as intermediaries, distributors or commercial agents for companies of another nationality?

The truth is that the world has become flat and this causes companies to be subject to several legal systems simultaneously on a daily basis, increasing if not multiplying the legal risks that threaten the waterline of the international business they carry out.

In this order, two regulatory changes are being introduced in Spain that mean that companies must mark one more point on their foreign trade map, and do so with rigor and seriousness because of what is at stake.  These two legislative measures set the multi-territoriality of corporate criminal risks and raise the legal compliance requirements of those who do business, whether in Spain or also with or outside Spain.

Looking at a practical case, can my company be responsible for a possible bribe made by a commercial agent abroad in favor of a commercial operation for my company? We could venture to say “No, he/she is just an independent agent, I have nothing to do with it, I just pay his/her commission, whatever he/she does…”.  Thinking in this way would be a natural impulse, although not for that reason right, since the reforms carried out in International Compliance regarding international cooperation and who are competent to judge, made that since 2014 the Spanish courts are competent to know and sentence these facts.

That is, in the case mentioned above, this bribery would be a bribery offense between individuals, for which the Spanish company would be responsible, but also joining such legislative change to the one carried out in 2015 regarding corporate criminal liability, could also be responsible administrators and managers related to this area in a personal capacity, yes, dear reader if you have thought that as an administrator or manager I can go to prison or be criminally liable for these facts? Well, you have read correctly.

Two rules that are modified to adapt to the legal and criminological requirements of the criminal liability of companies, which if not known and, most importantly, properly treated, can bring down to earth so many hours of study, travel, business efforts… in short, a whole business project.

The good thing is that it is a “problem” with a solution and the wise saying goes “that if a problem has a solution it is no longer a problem”… we will talk about it at the breakfast that Grupo T&T will hold together with ACOCEX, on April 21 at the Club Financiero de Madrid, where we will discuss the disease, the patient but also the preventive treatment to keep our business projects safe, we are waiting for you.

Miguel Toledo Murcia

Lawyer. Area Manager
Economic Criminal & Compliance
T&T Lawyers Group


More info and registration for the informative breakfast on the subject, click here

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