How the New French Guidance on Deferred Prosecution Eligibility Affects Settlement Negotiations
The Parquet National Financier (PNF) and the French anti-corruption agency (L’Agence Francaise Anticorruption or AFA) recently published guidelines (the Guidelines1) setting forth the conditions companies must meet to be eligible to enter into a French Deferred Prosecution Agreement (called Convention Judiciaire d’Intérêt Public or CJIP), as well as details about how financial penalties are determined.
The Guidelines offer insight into French expectations for companies investigating wrongdoing in this new era and overlap substantially with similar guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the UK Serious Fraud Office.
Addressing investigations by multiple jurisdictions will always, of course, require a nuanced approach tailored to each country’s authorities. But this broad international alignment and increasingly clear set of rules presents new opportunities for companies navigating investigations by French authorities that implicate other jurisdictions.
Under Sapin II, CJIPs are available to companies under investigation for specific offences of corruption, influence peddling and laundering the proceeds of tax fraud or related offences. The Guidelines direct the French Public Prosecutor to evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether a company not currently being prosecuted should be offered a CJIP "where it appears in line with the public interest not to initiate a criminal prosecution."
To help readers understand this terrain, this article provides an overview of the emerging French CJIP regime, comparing and contrasting it with the U.S. and UK approaches.
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