Analyse
14 juillet 2020

Enseignements tirés des deux premières décisions de la Commission des sanctions de l’Agence française anticorruption (En anglais)

Bastille Day Newsletter 2020 - Enforcement & Court Decisions

 

The Enforcement Committee of the French Anti-Corruption Agency (“AFA”) [1] issued its first decisions on July 4, 2019 [2] and on February 7, 2020 [3]. In both cases, the decision followed a control carried out by the AFA regarding the existence of breaches of the compliance mechanisms provided for in Article 17 of the law Sapin II [4] . Although no financial sanctions were pronounced, both decisions clarify the AFA Enforcement Committee’s expectations of companies’ compliance program.

 

I. Decisions reflecting the rigorous stance of the French regulator

With respect to Sonepar – a company specialized in electrical equipment distribution –, the AFA’s Director considered that the company risk mapping was too standardized, the code of conduct was irrelevant regarding the risks that should have been identified, third-party evaluation procedures did not comply with legal requirements and were missing internal control and evaluation processes and an efficient accounting control procedure ensuring that accounts were not used for corruption or influence-peddling purposes. With respect to Imerys – a company specialized in the extraction and processing of minerals – the AFA’s Director considered that its risk assessment methodology did not guarantee satisfactory risk identification, that its risk mapping was incomplete and were missing the absence of an appropriate code of conduct and accounting control procedures.

In both decisions, taking up point by point the grievances formulated by the AFA’s Director, the Enforcement Committee assessed the compliance obligations in the light of the legislative provisions.

By the hearing, Sonepar had demonstrated that its risk mapping was being improved, that it had adapted its code of conduct, incorporated new control procedures into its internal control charter and had developed managing tools for relations with third parties and intermediaries. Since the violations were no longer established at the day of the hearing, the Enforcement Committee rejected all grievances raised by the AFA’s Director, and chose not to sanction Sonepar in the absence of serious breaches of the legislative provisions [5]. As for Imerys, the Enforcement Committee requested it to adjust its code of conduct and accounting procedures within a specific time-frame. Neither of the companies was sanctioned financially.

 

II. Specifications regarding the non-binding nature of AFA recommendations and the burden of proof in proceedings opposing the AFA and companies

Both decisions raised interesting points, notably regarding the nature of AFA recommendations, that could be used as potential guidance for companies and AFA controls in the future.

In the Sonepar decision, the Enforcement Committee stated that Sonepar, which was not required to follow the methodology recommended in the AFA recommendations, must be considered as justifying the relevance, quality and effectiveness at the level of the risk mapping that it is responsible for setting up.

In the Imerys decision, the Enforcement Committee did not approve the AFA’s reasoning regarding risk mapping, which requires companies to include a roadmap in their risk mapping, as well as detain a specific and standardized methodology. The Enforcement Committee rejected this argument, on account of the fact that the AFA’s recommendations are only a frame of reference and are thus not binding for companies.

This demonstrates that only breaches provided for by law might be sanctioned and that companies are free to choose their own risk mapping methodology as long as it meets the legislative requirements [6].

Furthermore, the Enforcement Committee distinguished two situations regarding the burden of proof. If a company states to have strictly complied with the AFA’s recommendations, it is presumed to satisfy anticorruption law requirements and the burden of proof lies with the AFA’s Director, who will have “to demonstrate that the company did not, in fact, followed such recommendations”. If a company alleges to have partially satisfied the AFA’s recommendations, it must “demonstrate the relevance, the quality and the effectiveness” of its anticorruption system [7].

These decisions thereby establish that the standard of assessment is that which is set by law and not by AFA recommendations. This being said, AFA recommendations remain an advantageous framework for companies who choose to comply with them.

Contenu similaire

Publication
14 juillet 2024
Bastille Day Newsletter 2024
En ce 14 juillet, l’équipe Navacelle vous propose, comme chaque année, un aperçu des événements marquants survenus en France au...
Analyse
27 mai 2024
Coopération judiciaire européenne et transmission des procédures pénales
La Commission européenne a adopté le 5 avril 2023 une proposition de règlement sur la transmission des procédures pénales entre...
Analyse
6 mai 2024
Contours de la future autorité européenne de lutte contre le blanchiment de capitaux
La nouvelle autorité de lutte contre le blanchiment de capitaux et le financement du terrorisme sera basée à Francfort et...
Publication
27 février 2024
Nouvelles obligations de reporting en matière de durabilité pour les entreprises françaises : quelles sont...
Navacelle revient pour The Legal Industry Reviews sur la transposition de la Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) en France par...
Revue de presse
19 juillet 2024
Revue de presse – Semaine du 15 juillet 2024
Cette semaine, la revue de presse revient sur l’accusation portée par la Commission européenne à l’encontre du réseau social X...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Panorama Droit pénal des affaires 2024
Tour d'horizon sur les décisions et événements relatifs au droit pénal des affaires survenus en France au cours des douze...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Panorama Éthique & conformité 2024
Tour d'horizon des décisions et événements relatifs à l'éthique et la conformité survenus en France au cours des douze derniers...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Panorama Arbitrage 2024
Tour d'horizon sur les décisions et événements relatifs à l'arbitrage survenus en France au cours des douze derniers mois dans...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Panorama Contentieux et enquêtes règlementaires 2024
Tour d'horizon sur les décisions et événements relatifs aux contentieux et enquêtes règlementaires survenus en France au cours des douze...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Panorama Droit de l’environnement et devoir de vigilance 2024
Tour d'horizon des décisions et événements relatifs au droit pénal de l'environnement et au devoir de vigilance survenus en France...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Observatoire des Conventions judiciaires d’intérêt public
Depuis sa création par la loi Sapin II du 9 décembre 2016, la Convention judiciaire d’intérêt public (CJIP) a démontré...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Focus sur l’activité de l’Autorité des marchés financiers 2024
L’année 2023 a marqué les 20 ans d’existence de l’AMF. Plus que jamais, le régulateur français entend soutenir la position...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Focus sur le programme de clémence de l’Autorité de la Concurrence
En décembre 2023, l’Autorité de la concurrence a publié un communiqué de procédure relatif à son programme de clémence, apportant...
Publication
14 juillet 2024
Un peu d’histoire : la Colonne de Juillet
Depuis maintenant 9 ans, la Bastille Day Newsletter est symbolisée par la Colonne de Juillet, située sur la place de...
Revue de presse
12 juillet 2024
Revue de presse – Semaine du 8 juillet 2024
Cette semaine, la revue de presse revient sur la confirmation de la condamnation d’une scierie française pour importation illégale de...