Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht (SPD) wants to facilitate the fight against corporate crime. Lambrecht told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that it did not consider the rules that were valid until then sufficient. If in a company "the leading people maximize profit criminally, or if they approve of criminal practices to promote business on the lower floors," then the courts should have greater latitude in the future to hold the whole company accountable pull.
A bill submitted by the Ministry of Justice provides, inter alia, for a drastic increase in the possible fines. So far, the upper limit is ten million euros. In the future, it should be in companies with more than 100 million euros annual sales at ten percent of sales. "For large corporations, we talk about possible sanctions up to tens of billions," Lambrecht told the newspaper.
Legality instead of opportunity principle
The new law would, for example, hit companies that deliver large-scale rotten meat or cheat on exhaust emissions. The bill presented to the newspaper states that the current low maximum penalty of ten million euros "does not allow sensitive sanctions against financially strong multinational corporations and thus penalizes smaller and medium-sized enterprises". That should change now.
In addition, the bill also complains that the law currently in force makes "the prosecution of even the most serious corporate crime" the sole discretion of the competent authorities. This had "led to inconsistent and insufficient punishment". Therefore, instead of the principle of opportunity, the principle of legality should apply in the future - and thus the public prosecutor's office must always determine in the future, if there is a suspicion against a company.
Lambrecht also wants the assistance in the investigation to be mitigated by in-house investigations. The responsibility of companies for certain crimes has meanwhile "developed into a universally recognized international standard", quoted the South German from the bill. This should now be taken into account in Germany. Lambrecht said that in the future "it will no longer be possible for a company to discharge responsibility for systematic crimes against individuals, but it will hold the entire company accountable".