With a new financial prosecutor and moves towards extending plea bargaining to major white-collar crimes, internal investigations may soon take off in France. GIR’s investigator’s guide gives the lowdown on everything from the country’s wide-ranging data protection laws to its lax attitude towards foreign bribery.
In January, an appeal court acquitted French defence company Safran of corruption charges, in a case that shows the difficulty in proving corporate criminal liability for foreign bribery in France.
The decision of a Paris court to quash an insider trading case against executives of aircraft-maker Airbus Group has sparked an intense debate in France over whether criminal or administrative authorities should handle market abuse enforcement.
Monitorship and internal investigation reports are sent to the French government for screening before being passed on to the US authorities - a process that France’s Ministry of Justice takes very seriously.
A French court has acquitted 14 companies accused of paying bribes to Iraqi officials, and for the first time has recognised that businesses cannot be prosecuted in France again if they have already entered into a deferred or non-prosecution agreement in the US.
The pending trial of Total, which is accused of paying bribes in Iran, has been postponed by French authorities until the oil company’s related DPA with US enforcers has expired. This will allow the company to put forward a double jeopardy argument against prosecution, according to a source with knowledge of the case.
The French Senate is considering a law that would for the first time oblige companies based in the country to introduce an effective anti-corruption compliance programme.
The prosecutor-led appeal against a decision in which double jeopardy protections were extended to companies facing trial in France has begun in the Paris Court of Appeals.
Éliane Houlette talks with Rahul Rose about the need for more plea bargains in France, difficulties in bringing successful foreign bribery prosecutions and why she hasn’t yet relied on an internal investigation report in a case.
With the presence of multiple major international law firms and the ever-present threat of US enforcement against French companies, internal investigations are gradually becoming accepted among Paris’s white-collar lawyers.
Payments in contravention of the UN oil-for-food programme were legal in Iraq and so do not count as bribes, the defence counsel for Total and Vitol told a Paris appeals court.