Comparative Guides

Welcome to Mondaq Comparative Guides - your comparative global Q&A guide.

Our Comparative Guides provide an overview of some of the key points of law and practice and allow you to compare regulatory environments and laws across multiple jurisdictions.

Start by selecting your Topic of interest below. Then choose your Regions and finally refine the exact Subjects you are seeking clarity on to view detailed analysis provided by our carefully selected internationally recognised experts.

4. Results: Answers
Anti-Corruption & Bribery
4.
Compliance
4.1
Is implementing an anti-corruption compliance programme a regulatory requirement in your jurisdiction?
Belgium

Answer ... There is no general regulatory requirement to have anti-corruption compliance programmes that applies to all companies and entities as a whole. That said, most large companies nonetheless have such a programme, which is tailored to the specific risks they face in their operations. When trying corruption cases involving companies, the courts will very often rely on an analysis of the anti-corruption compliance programme which has been implemented in order to determine whether the company had criminal intent. Efforts to combat corruption may also be taken into account by the authorities as mitigating circumstances leading to a milder sanction, or to a lower settlement amount in case of criminal settlement. So although this is not a legal requirement, implementing such a programme is not only relevant, but very often material for companies.

In addition, certain large companies and groups (ie, listed companies, credit institutions, insurance companies and settlement institutions) are subject to a duty to disclose non-financial information in their annual management report. This report must be submitted each year by the board of directors to the shareholders and, as regards listed companies, filed with the Belgian National Bank. To the extent necessary to understand these companies’ business evolution, development, performance and position, and the impact of their activities, they must describe, among other things:

  • the internal policies and diligence procedures that they have put in place to fight corruption;
  • the main corruption risks generated by their activities; and
  • the outcome of the anti-corruption and bribery policies that they have put in place.

If no specific policy is in place, a clear and reasoned justification must be included in the annual management report. Failure to comply with these new requirements may expose the directors to civil and criminal liability, and the company may be held jointly liable for payment of the fines.

For more information about this answer please contact: Nanyi Kaluma from Allen & Overy
4.2
What compliance best practices should a company implement to mitigate the risk of anti-corruption violations?
Belgium

Answer ... There is no one-size-fits-all best practice to implement.

Each company is expected to conduct a risk assessment exercise and determine on that basis a system tailored to its own corporate and risk profile. Such a system will typically include the following components in large companies:

  • written standards, policies and procedures (eg, code of conduct, policies and procedures regarding anti-corruption, gifts, hospitality and expenses, whistleblowing);
  • communication to and training of personnel and management;
  • audits and controls (lines of defence); and
  • internal enforcement.

The key standards are adequacy and effectiveness: ‘paper programmes’ will not pass the test.

In addition to the multitude of international standards, Belgian companies can rely on the guidelines issued by the Belgian authorities in their Anti-corruption Guide for Belgian Enterprises Overseas.

For more information about this answer please contact: Nanyi Kaluma from Allen & Overy
4.3
Which books and records requirements have relevance in the anti-corruption context?
Belgium

Answer ... No books and records provisions under Belgian law are specifically aimed at preventing corruption.

For more information about this answer please contact: Nanyi Kaluma from Allen & Overy
4.4
Are companies obliged to report financial irregularities or actual or potential anti-corruption violations?
Belgium

Answer ... There is no general statutorily organised whistleblowing or self-reporting under Belgian law.

Investigations and enforcement relating to corruption offences mainly arise from the activities of the police and the prosecutor, and/or from complaints by potential victims.

For more information about this answer please contact: Nanyi Kaluma from Allen & Overy
4.5
Does failure to implement an adequate anti-corruption programme constitute a regulatory and/or criminal violation in your jurisdiction?
Belgium

Answer ... Failure to implement an adequate anti-corruption programme does not constitute a criminal or regulatory offence. However, it may lead to criminal liability if it results in the company having engaged in criminal behaviour (see questions 1.1 and 4.1).

For more information about this answer please contact: Nanyi Kaluma from Allen & Overy