Yesterday Tuesday 8 November the French National Assembly (the lower house of Parliament) adopted a much anticipated bill on the fight against corruption – the Sapin II law. These new rules will allow for something similar to the UK’s “deferred prosecution agreements” to be reached for corporates under the supervision of judicial authorities. Businesses with over 500 employees and a turnover of more than Euro 100 million will also be legally obliged to introduce compliance programmes to detect and prevent corruption. Higher anti-corruption sanctions will also apply and compliance failure will be penalised. We understand that a few further steps have to be taken to finalise everything but which are essentially technicalities – timing will be important though as the clock will start ticking for businesses to comply once the law comes into full effect.
The new French law follows a trend we have seen around the world of tougher bribery laws – like the UK Bribery Act 2010 which some in France have viewed as a model for their new law. It also reflects the increased enforcement of bribery law around the world, especially with the US authorities enforcing the US The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA). It is worth remembering that French companies still occupy 3 spots in the top 10 largest FCPA cases of all time.
We’ll update developments on Sapin II in due course.
For more information please contact André Bywater who is a lawyer with Cordery in London where his focus is on compliance issues.
Office: +44 (0)207 075 1785