On 8 November 2016, the French Parliament approved new anti-corruption legislation. Championed by the Minister of Finance Michel Sapin, the law that is commonly known as Sapin II will fundamentally change the compliance landscape for French companies. In particular, it will place a positive obligation on large companies, and their subsidiaries, to implement anti-corruption compliance programs. Failure to comply with this mandatory obligation will open the company, and its directors, to sanctions. This can include a fine of up to 200,000 Euros imposed on the CEO or board of directors, and a fine of up to 1m Euros for the company itself.
Companies falling within the scope of this obligation include those whose head office is located in France, employ at least 500 people and have revenue of at least 100m Euros. The compliance program must include a code of conduct, whistleblowing procedures, risk assessments, due diligence on suppliers and third parties, accounting controls, training, and disciplinary policy for non-compliant staff.
These new rules will be enforced by a new anti-corruption agency created under Sapin II and headed by Xaviere Simeoni. The aims of the new agency are to assist companies in setting up compliance programs, perform controls, sanction non-compliance and supervise monitorships. Guidelines setting out its policies and procedures in more detail are anticipated.