Prosecuting Agencies – International (with English language websites)
A small collection of international investigating and prosecuting agencies, with policies available in English, sorted by subject area.
Preliminary note on corporate crime in the jurisdictions listed
Thomson Reuters publishes “Financial and Business Crime Global Guides” that are regularly updated, on 28 countries, here. These guides generally include information about the law regarding corporate criminal liability in the jurisdiction, though these sections are sometimes incomplete. As indicated in the title, the focus is on economic offences (market manipulation, fraud, corruption etc), and that analysis extends to the agencies involved in investigation and prosecution. Environmental, consumer and workplace health and safety offences are excluded. A valuable resource.
For an excellent summary of the law of corporate criminal liability in major trading jurisdictions, see Clifford Chance’s 2015 report, authored by Judith Seddon and others, available here.
Environment and Animal Protection Criminal Investigation and/or Prosecuting Agencies
Baltic Sea Region (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden- Network of Prosecutors on Environmental Crime in the Baltic Sea Region (ENPRO) – Manual on Prosecuting Environmental Crime in the Baltic Sea Region here.
Canada Environment Canada “Our enforcement activities relate to areas including the manufacture and use of toxic substances, import and export of hazardous wastes and materials, migratory birds, endangered species, and the protection of domestic water and water shared internationally. Our enforcement officers work with industries, businesses, farmers, provinces, municipalities, customs officials, hunters, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They also testify in court, work undercover on smuggling operations, and conduct field inspections, investigations and intelligence activities.”
Europe – European Network of Prosecutors for the Environment (ENPE)
Finland – Environmental offences are investigated by the Finnish police; or perhaps the National Bureau of Investigation if circumstances require. Environmental administrative agencies refer matters to police for investigation. The decision to prosecute is made by a prosecutor. See: Environmental Offences in Finland 2009-2010 pp 16-17.
France – According to a 2015 publication by the European Union Action to Fight Environmental Crime (EFFACE), “The Public Prosecutor supervises the criminal investigations department (police judiciaire). Investigations are conducted by various police departments which must immediately inform the Public Prosecutor of the commission of offences. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has the competence to decide on the charges; the Prosecutor may decide to close the case or to prosecute, according to the principle of prosecutorial discretion.” Furthermore, “All the environmental offences provided for by the French legislation can be applied to the natural persons as well as to the legal ones.” Unfortunately, the Public Prosecutor’s Office does not have an English language website.
Germany – Umwelt Bundesamt – Technically, Germany doesn’t belong on this list, as it hasn’t yet enacted legislation to criminalise the behaviour of corporations. However, this may change in the near future. According to its website, “[s]ince its founding in 1974, the UBA has been Germany’s main environmental protection agency.”
New Zealand – Environmental Protection Agency – information about enforcement officers available here and here; Enforcement and Compliance information here and compliance policy here; information on the limits on the EPA’s role here.
Environment Agency – Enforcement policies here.
Marine Management Organisation publishes enforcement and prosecution information here.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency enforcement policy here.
RSPCA’s prosecution powers here.
Workplace Health and Safety Criminal Investigation and/or Prosecuting Agencies
Canada: The Government of Canada’s Labour Program publishes a compliance policy here, noting that “If a Labour Program health and safety officer determines that a contravention of Part II of the Canada Labour Code has been committed, a prosecution may be initiated with the consent of the Minister.” A list of successful prosecutions is made available here.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides regulatory guidance.
Work Safe British Colombia doesn’t publish prosecution information;
Occupational Health and Safety Branch (Newfoundland and Labrador)
Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (Northwest Territories and Nunavut)
Occupational Health and Safety Division (Nova Scotia)
United Kingdom – The Health and Safety Executive publishes an overview of its enforcement strategy here; its prosecution policy here. Its Enforcement Policy Statement, including its views regarding sentencing is available here.
Economic Criminal Investigation and/or Prosecution Agencies (consumer law, fraud, tax evasion, competition law, corruption)
Canada Revenue Agency publishes its prosecution information (criminal investigations, charges and convictions) here. It notes that “… the CRA’s Criminal Investigations Program (CIP) is specifically dedicated to ensuring that significant cases of tax evasion are investigated and, where appropriate, referred to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for criminal prosecution.
The Criminal Investigations Program focuses on the most egregious cases that meet one or more of the following priorities:
- Significant and/or material cases of tax evasion with an international element;
- Promoters of sophisticated tax schemes aimed at defrauding the government;
- Financial crime cases investigated jointly with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other domestic or international law enforcement partners; and
- Significant and/or material cases involving income tax and/or GST/HST tax evasion, including the underground economy.”
The CRA reports a conviction rate of 98% (2013/14 figure).
Competition Bureau – investigates suspected criminal activity, sending prosecution briefs to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. Overview of their investigation work here; and their enforcement policies and outcomes here. (Rather bizarrely, a bill was introduced in May 2015 proposing the creation of a competition-law-specific DPP for Canada.)
The Consumer Protection Office of Manitoba publishes recent enforcement outcomes here – however, they all appear to be administrative penalties. Its approach to administrative penalties and prosecution is explained here; it refers criminal briefs to a prosecution service. Each province and territory has its own consumer law regulator.
Similarly, for fraud investigations, the responsibility is diffuse: “The RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police], provincial police forces in Ontario and Quebec, and municipal police forces across the country all investigate fraud. So do the country’s 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions.” Naturally this stunts the development of expertise, and fragments the picture of corporate offending across the country – a common problem for federal countries.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has exclusive authority to charge offences under the Corruption of Public Officials Act, and has established an International Anti-Corruption Unit to conduct corruption investigations.
The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement was established to “improve the compliance environment for corporate activity in the Irish economy by encouraging adherence to the requirements of the Companies Acts, and bringing to account those who disregard the law.” It publishes prosecution outcomes here (all the 2015 prosecutions were of white-collar, rather than corporate, offenders).
Fraud and corruption may be investigated by An Garda Síochána (Ireland’s National Police Service), which has a specialist fraud investigation unit, the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation. Other specialist units within the police force that may investigate corporate crime include the Criminal Assets Bureau and the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Commerce Commission New Zealand describes itself in this way: “We enforce legislation that promotes competition in New Zealand markets and prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct by traders. The Commission also enforces a number of pieces of legislation that, through regulation, aim to provide the benefits of competition in markets where effective competition does not exist. This includes in the telecommunications, dairy, electricity, gas pipelines and airport sectors.
The Commission is an independent Crown entity established under section 8 of the Commerce Act 1986.The Commission is not subject to direction from the government in carrying out its enforcement and regulatory control activities. The Commerce Commission’s purpose is to achieve the best possible outcomes in competitive and regulated markets for the long-term benefit of New Zealanders.”
The Serious Fraud Office, within the Ministry of Justice, “was established as an operational department through the Serious Fraud Office Act 1990 (the Act), as a specialist law enforcement agency whose purpose is to detect, investigate and prosecute New Zealand’s most serious and complex financial crimes.”
UAE Local police services investigate crime; however, the financial regulator Dubai Financial Services Authority may also investigate, though it will ultimately refer the matter to a prosecuting agency.
The Financial Conduct Authority enforces a range of economic laws including consumer law, with power to investigate and prosecute. Its enforcement approach is available here; general approach to regulation here.
The Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) is an independent government department responsible for investigating and prosecuting fraud, bribery and corruption. The joint SFO, Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office (now closed) and DPP policy “Guidance for Corporate Prosecutions” is available here. It does not cover prosecutions for corporate manslaughter; that DPP policy is published here.
Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was established “to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis as well as those who would attempt to take advantage of the efforts at economic recovery.
The task force is improving efforts across the government and with state and local partners to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, recover proceeds for victims and address financial discrimination in the lending and financial markets.
With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 US Attorneys Offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. The Task Force has established Financial Fraud Coordinators in every US Attorney’s Office around the country to help make these broad mandates a reality on the ground.”
The Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice “prosecutes certain violations of the antitrust laws by filing criminal suits that can lead to large fines and jail sentences.” It publishes guidelines and policies here, and information about criminal enforcement here.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) only litigates in the civil and administrative jurisdictions, however, “[a]s an adjunct to the SEC’s civil enforcement authority, the Division works closely with law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and around the world to bring criminal cases when appropriate.” It has a broad range of investigatory powers.
Similarly, the Bureau of Consumer Protection, within the Federal Trade Commission, only litigates in the civil and administrative jurisdictions, but its Enforcement Division “coordinates FTC actions with criminal law enforcement agencies through its Criminal Liaison Unit”. It too has broad investigative powers. Both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency have robust enforcement powers but do not appear to prosecute.
The Internal Revenue Service “is organized to carry out the responsibilities of the secretary of the Treasury under section 7801 of the Internal Revenue Code. The secretary has full authority to administer and enforce the internal revenue laws and has the power to create an agency to enforce these laws. The IRS was created based on this legislative grant” according to its website. Criminal enforcement is explained here. It boasted a 93.2% conviction rate for the 2015 fiscal year.
Further Reading: Michael Faure and Gunter Heine (eds), Criminal Enforcement of Environmental Law in the European Union, (Kluwer Law International, 2005)
A useful website for identifying US government office contact details is CountyOffice.org.