France Modernizes Its Criminal Procedures

In a post on the Global Anticorruption Blog curated at Harvard Law School, which you will find in PDF format in the Publications page, and you can see online here, I describe a subtle but very important shift in France’s efforts to address corporate crime: Whereas traditionally complex economic and financial crimes involving international corporations had been handled through a procedure known as an instruction, led by an investigating magistrate, the National Financial Prosecutor of France has recently indicated that over 80% of his cases are now being handled by his office without reference to an investigating magistrate. This shift is likely to make French prosecutors considerably more nimble and effective, and much better positioned to work on equal terms with their counterparts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. The joint resolution announced in January 2020 that aerospace giant Airbus had reached deferred prosecution agreements with all three countries — in an investigation led by France, and in which it received the largest share of the penalty payments — shows the effects of this evolution.

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