The provisions of the Decree apply to companies and associations with or without legal personality and also, according to consolidated case law and legal doctrine, to companies with a registered office abroad, operating in Italy through a branch.
In a landmark case of 27 April 2004, the Court of Milan held the Italian branch of a German company liable for one of the offences provided for by the Decree, committed by a consultant of the company in the interests of the company itself. In particular, the judge maintained that: “any foreign individual or corporation operating in Italy has the duty to comply with Italian law, and thus also with the provisions of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 231/2001”1.
The provisions of the Decree also apply to foreign entities operating in Italy, regardless of whether or not the legislation of the country of origin of such entity provides for a set of regulations similar to the provisions of the Decree. For example, in the case referred to above, the judge held that the absence of a rule of German law on organisational models for the prevention of the commission of crimes did not exempt the German company’s Italian branch from having to adopt such an organisational model to escape any liability.
- At first instance, the company was fined and a restraining order prohibiting any dealing with the Italian Public Administration for one year was imposed on the company after one of its consultants had been found guilty of bribery. On appeal, the restriction was limited to the operations of a particular division of the company (which stopped that division’s operations in Italy altogether).