With the introduction of Legislative Decree 231 of 8 June 2001, and subsequent amendments and additions thereto (“Decree 231”), Italian law attributes criminal liability to companies for offences contemplated expressly by the decree and committed by their directors, employees or other agents, where such corporate crime is committed in the interests or to the advantage of the company. Such liability can give rise to administrative sanctions, fines, disqualification orders and seizures.
Under the provisions of Decree 231, a company is relieved from liability in the event of an offence if the company in question has effectively implemented specific compliance measures designed to prevent and detect wrongdoing. The effective implementation of a compliance programme, as an integral part of a general system of rules and procedures governing the organization, management and control of the company, must be assured by an independent supervisory body with decision-making and oversight powers. Besides relieving a company from criminal liability, the adoption and effective implementation of a compliance programme also helps improve internal control and encourages a corporate culture to take root built on the principles of transparency, ethical practice, fairness and respect for rules, underscoring the good reputation of the company and strengthening the trust of all stakeholders, be they customers, suppliers, employees or associates in general.