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Criminal liability for company organs

Since a formal corporate criminal law does not yet exist in Germany, no penalties can be imposed on companies and corporations in the narrow legal sense. As at the same time their organs do not automatically meet the personal conditions of the offence, Section 14 of the German Criminal Code (StGB) closes this criminality gap. This raises the question of whether offences in the represented company are also attributable to its organs.


  • Section 14 paragraph 1 no. 1 StGB states that each member of the Executive Board is the standard addressee of the obligations of the company. Offences in the field of criminal liability for company organs include e.g. embezzlement of wages as an employer (Section 266a StGB), insolvency offences (Section 283 et seq. StGB) and the thwarting of enforcement (Section 288 StGB). For persons acting as sales agent operators, the offences and administrative offences in accordance with Sections 24 and 25 of the Shop Closing Act (Ladenschlussgesetz/LadSchlG) may be relevant while participants in external trade must pay particular attention to comply with Sections 17 and 18 of the Foreign Economic Act (Außenwirtschaftsgesetz/AWG).
  • Within the labor criminal law the extension of criminal liability for company organs is regulated in Section 14 paragraph 2 StGB. In accordance with this rule every member of the management of the company may be subject to the duties of the company, while Section 14 paragraph 3 StGB makes clear that the actual handling of the corresponding tasks is relevant instead of the civil validity of the underlying contract.


Juergen Klengel draws on many years of practical knowledge in advising a wide range national and international of organs of companies and corporations. He answers all questions relating to criminal liability for company organs and identifies internally any misconduct of employees, in particular if this is due to compliance violations or to an insufficient compliance management system that needs to be improved. He develops optimization possibilities, implements them and ensures future compliance with the regulations. Furthermore, he represents and defends companies and their bodies in the course of investigations and legal disputes.

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