The decree dated September 18, 20191 added article 314-1-1 to the French Criminal Code, strengthening the breach of trust offence.
The sentence is extended from three to five years of imprisonment2 in cases where the breach “affects [the] revenue received, [the] expenditure incurred or [the] assets belonging to the budget of the European Union, to the budgets of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union or to budgets managed and controlled directly by the latter3”.
Similarly, the sentence increases from a €375,000 to a €750,000 fine and seven years’ imprisonment when the crime is committed in an organized band.
While the attempt and the aggravating circumstance of organized crime are not sanctioned under the common law breach of trust offence, this new article makes explicit that the attempt to commit this specific breach of trust will be sanctioned in the same way as the commission of the offence itself.
These provisions, which reinforce the legislative protection of EU’s financial interest, are in line with the European Directive of July 5, 2017 “on the fight against fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union by means of criminal law4”.
Although the case law on the breach of trust offence is well established, the first decisions regarding the breach of trust relating to EU financial interests are yet to come. Is awaited with anticipation case law clarifying attempted breach of trust, and the confirmation that the constituent elements are the same as those of the primary offence.