Under German criminal law, a company as a legal entity is not liable to act, be held liable or be punished. Only natural persons can be liable to prosecution. For this reason, corporate defense goes beyond that of an individual person.
Investigations by the public prosecutor’s office, the tax investigation department and customs usually do not only affect the managing director or the board members of a company, but deeply interfere with the economic structures and can have an effect on the entire company and even lead to questions of existence.
However, the effect of criminal proceedings conducted against managing directors or board members can extend to the entire company in a significant way.
Thus, the authorities have a wide range of options at their disposal to extend investigative measures as well as sanctions to the core of a company. These include, for example:
- Seizure of possible evidence, § 111b stop
- Arrest of property to secure confiscation of value, § 111e stop
- confiscation of proceeds of crime or the value of proceeds of crime §§ 73b I No. 1, 73c StGB
- confiscation of crime products, means and objects § 74a StGB
- Imposition of fines of up to ten million euros, § 30 OWiG
- confiscation of profits, Section 17 IV OWiG
- confiscation of the value of proceeds of crime, section 29a OWiG
Apart from these direct interventions in assets, press reports, searches and witness hearings can have a massive impact on the reputation and operations of a company in the short and long term.
It is therefore advisable to seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage of the investigation proceedings in order to prevent negative effects on the company or to keep them to a minimum and to safeguard the company’s economic existence.
We keep an eye on all possible consequences for your company individually and protect you and your company accordingly against any interference by the authorities. For example, we act as witness counsel when employees are questioned as witnesses and, thanks to our specialization in all areas of law regularly relevant to corporate defense – especially in the areas of commercial, tax, insolvency, environmental and labor criminal law – we can respond to each specific case with the necessary expertise.
At the same time, we take care to consider the interests of the individually defended natural persons in the company in order to ensure the best possible coordinated defense of individual persons and companies (so-called “base defense”).