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Companies: Immunity from prosecution lifted

As of 1 July 2016, legal entities are directly responsible under criminal law in Slovakia.

In 2010, the concept of so-called indirect responsibility of legal entities under criminal law was introduced in Slovakia. Since this model did not correspond to international obligations and was quite “toothless” in practice, a separate act was passed on the responsibility of legal entities under criminal law. This enables direct prosecution of legal entities for crime.

It is understandable that a legal entity cannot commit the same crimes as a natural person. Crimes that can be committed by a legal entity are listed exhaustively in the new act. These concern mainly economic criminality and corruption. A legal entity can commit crimes such as causing damage to a consumer, unfair practices towards consumers, illegal employment, tax fraud, non-payment of taxes and insurance premiums, illegal waste disposal, pollution or bribery.

A legal entity is responsible under criminal law if a crime was committed for its benefit, in its name through the legal entity and furthermore:

  • it was committed by the statutory body or a member of that body,

  • by a person who performs control or surveillance within the legal entity,

  • or by another person authorized to represent the legal entity or to make decisions on its behalf.

If the legal entity is convicted, the court can dissolve the legal entity, decide on confiscation of its property or things, impose a fine of up to 1.6 million EUR or prohibit the entity’s activity for up to ten years. Other sanctions include a prohibition on accepting funds from the EU, a prohibition on participating in tenders and publication of the conviction.

Insolvency, winding-up or dissolution of a legal entity does not lead to expiry of responsibility under criminal law. On the contrary, responsibility is transferred to the legal successor, with the exception of natural persons.

In conclusion, the act does not apply to all legal entities. The Slovak Republic and its bodies, other countries, international organizations as well as municipalities or higher territorial units are excluded.

Source: Act on responsibility of legal entities under criminal law.