In their March 2018 coalition agreement, the coalition partners CDU, CSU and SPD have agreed to establish new rules on criminal sanctions against companies and for the first time legal requirements for internal investigations. The agreement already sets out a clear framework and demonstrates a strong political will to tighten the level of sanctions, introduce an obligation to prosecute corporate crimes and create incentives for compliance measures as well as for the assistance in the clarification of criminal offences through internal investigations. The former Federal Justice Minister, Katarina Barley, declared the law reform to be a "priority project". Following her election to the European Parliament, her successor, Christine Lambrecht, made the draft bill available to a small circle of experts in mid-August 2019 and started the consultation process with the other ministries. The legislative proposal is being discussed extensively in legal practice and academia.
Status quo: So far no criminal prosecution of companies
In contrast to most EU member states, which have introduced a "real" corporate criminal law, Germany has so far pursued an extraordinary path and addressed the issue under the Administrative Offences Act ("Ordnungswidrigkeitengesetz", "OWiG"). Sec. 30, 130 OWiG provide for the imposition of fines of up to EUR 10 million (for negligent acts: EUR 5 million) on corporations in case their managing people commit an offence or fail to take appropriate supervisory measures which would have prevented or at least made more difficult criminal acts committed by employees. Since the perpetrator is not supposed to retain the unlawfully obtained benefits, the law also stipulates that the unlawfully acquired benefits shall be skimmed off (see Sec. 17(4) OWiG).