The December 23 2.010 comes into force Organic Law 5 / 2010 22 of June, which is a modification of the Penal Code valid. From the essentially business lens, some modifications and innovations that seem relevant to us have been introduced:

Regulation of criminal liability of legal persons.

Next to the imputation of crimes committed on their behalf or on their own and for their benefit by persons with powers of representation (already in force so far), the liability is added for offenses prompted by failure to exercise proper control over their employees, but always taking into account the circumstances of each case, in order to avoid a purely objective reading of this rule imputation. It may be declared criminal liability of legal persons regardless of whether you can individualize or not the criminal responsibility of the individual.

a catalog of specific tax penalties to legal persons, such as:

  • The penalty fees or proportional
  • The suspension of activities or closure of the premises for a maximum period of five years
  • Ineligibility for subsidies and support to contract with public administrations and to enjoy tax incentives or benefits and social security for a maximum period of fifteen
  • Intervention to safeguard the rights of workers or creditors for a maximum period of five years
  • Or even the dissolution of the legal person.

Also provides for the possibility to split the payment of fines in case of danger to the survival of legal persons or stability of jobs, or when advised the public interest.

Also exhaustively they regulate cases of mitigation of responsibility of legal persons, highlighting the confession of the offense to authorities, repairing the damage and the establishment of effective measures to prevent and detect crimes in the future be committed, the means or under the cover of the legal person.

In the line of what transpired in the preceding paragraphs, we consider relevant to mention the fact that the transformation, merger, takeover or division of a legal person does not extinguish criminal liability, since it would move to the entity or entities in which it is transformed , or where you will be merged or absorbed and also extend to the entity or entities that may result from the split. Similarly, no criminal liability for covert or merely apparent dissolution of the legal person would die.


Criminal liability of legal persons is categorized in different offenses, among which are those relating to the following types of crimes:

  • Cybercrime.
  • Fraud.
  • punishable insolvency.
  • Offenses relating to intellectual property, market and consumers.
  • Abetting crimes and money laundering.
  • Crimes against public finances and social security.
  • Crimes on land use and urban planning.
  • Crimes against natural resources and the environment.
  • Bribery.
  • Influence peddling.
  • Corruption in international business transactions.

In another vein, we inform you that the reform of the Penal Code also carries an increased penalties for crimes against the Treasury and Social Security with the idea that they are actually proportionate to the seriousness of the behaviors performed.

Finally, it seems important to highlight the fact that the minimum period of limitation for crimes rises to five years (so far the minimum term was set at three years).

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Daniel Vigo

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