In a ruling of 9 May 2017, the BGH recently clarified for the first time that efficient compliance within the company can lead directly to a reduction in fines. Companies should install an effective compliance management system to protect themselves from high fines in an emergency.
Fine against the company pursuant to § 30 OWiG
In the case underlying the decision of the BGH, an armaments company had received an order for a consultancy firm based on bribery. The account of the consulting firm was forwarded to the accounting department by the authorized signatory as executive employee and his superior in the knowledge of the circumstances, which led to an unjustified deduction of business expenses, thus an unlawful tax advantage. The authorised signatory was sentenced to a suspended sentence by the Regional Court for tax evasion and aiding and abetting tax evasion. His employer, the armaments company, was fined in accordance with § 30 OWiG.
Good compliance pays off
In the context of the audit, the BGH decided that the assessment of the fine for the company had to take into account the extent to which the obligation to prevent infringements in the sphere of the company was fulfilled and whether the company had an effective compliance management system. Furthermore, the BGH made it clear that an optimization of the compliance system after the violation to avoid further violations can still be considered positively in the assessment of the fine.
Set up a compliance system now
This should serve as a further incentive for companies to establish and further develop an efficient compliance system. It is not only the company that can be saved from high fines. Management and compliance officers also protect themselves against personal liability risks through an efficient compliance system.
Let our lawyers advise you on setting up or optimizing your compliance system.