New French law for transparency – Christophe Jolk comments
A new French law for transparency, the fight against corruption and the modernisation of the economy (referred to as “Sapin II”), has been in force since 10 December 2016.
Christophe Jolk takes a look at some of the provisions and their longer-term implications for corporations:
1. New centralised French anti-corruption agency
The Sapin II law has created a new anti-corruption agency, which aims amongst other things, to:
- centralise and diffuse information relating to the fight against corruption
- issue recommendations to prevent and detect corruption
- control and monitor
Hindering the agency in its work can incur a fine of up to 30,000 euros.
2. Legal status of whistleblowers clarified
The law defines a whistleblower as someone who reports in good faith illegal activities, without hoping to receive a financial reward in return. Subject to exceptions, whistleblowers cannot now be criminally liable for violating a confidentiality privilege, if the report was necessary and proportionate to safeguard the harmed interests and if a specific reporting procedure was followed.
3. New compliance requirements for companies
Companies that have at least 500 employees (or are part of a group of companies with at least 500 employees) and with a turnover (on an individual or consolidated basis) of more than 100 million euros, have a new duty of vigilance and are required to put in place internal best practices guidelines to tackle corruption. This means that, amongst other things, companies are required to put in place:
- an internal code of best practices
- an internal reporting mechanism
- internal risk audits
- specific KYC-measures
- specific training for particularly exposed employees and managers
For non-compliance of the above, the new anti-corruption agency can issue fines of up to 200,000 euros for company officers and up to 1,000,000 euros for the companies themselves.
Barristers: Christophe Jolk