In Italy, as in many other countries, little data is available to evaluate the effect of the corporate liability regime — on deterring corporate crime and on the companies themselves. A research project supported by the Milan-based Fondazione Centro Nazionale di Prevenzione e Difesa Sociale (the National Center for Social Protection and Defense Foundation or CNPDS) has set out to fill the void. Coordinated by Professors Stefano Manacorda and Francesco Centonze, the project has enlisted Italian judicial institutions and the private sector in the collection of empirical data.
For the first time the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the General Public Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Cassation, and two business associations, — Confindustria, which represents more than 150,000 Italian companies, and Assonime, representing the Italian companies listed on the Italian stock market, — are collaborating to gather information on the impact of a law. Below Marco Colacurci of the Università della Campania and Pierpaolo Astorina of the Università di Bergamo, two assistant Professors involved in the project, explain the data they are gathering and summarize what they have learned so far about corporate liability for corruption.
Their findings will likely be of great interest not only to GAB readers but to the OECD, which will soon assess Italy’s compliance with the Anti-Bribery Convention. Thanks to Professors Colacurci and Astorina for sharing their work with GAB and to Professor Stefano Manacorda for facilitating it.
Twenty years have passed since Italy introduced liability for companies (the liability is formally administrative but modelled on the criminal features). Possible reforms to the legislation are now a matter of intense debate.. Anniversaries indeed represent valuable occasions to reflect on what works and what does not, and the same goes for Legislative Decree n. 231/2001. Conferences and seminars are underway in Italy both to celebrate the law that introduced the direct liability of corporations for crimes committed by individuals acting for them, and, at the same time, to highlight the critiques that have emerged over the years.
These latter have several aspects, such as the under-use of international standards in the creation and judicial evaluation of compliance programs, the intense discretionary powers of public prosecutors and criminal judges, the lack of recognition of pretrial diversion mechanisms apt to stimulate effective forms of corporate cooperation, the failure to consider the size and organizational complexity of companies, and the list could go on.
Most of all, and despite the growing attention which scholars (and law firms) have been directing towards liability over the last two decades, the praxis seems to show that prosecutions for corporate crimes are rare. Consequently, judgments too are rare, and decisions acknowledging the adequacy of the compliance programs adopted by indicted companies are scarce. This could reflect a degree of indifference in this area, on the part of the public prosecutors’ offices or, alternatively, could be interpreted as a sign of the preventive effects of the Decree 231.Continue reading