The government recently approved a draft legislation transposing the Fourth Anti-money Laundering Directive and introducing, among other things, important changes for private companies with regard to their reporting duties and transparency of ownership. Some of the new requirements for non-listed companies are of particular importance, as they will be key for combating money laundering and terrorism financing. The bill will also introduce stricter reporting duties and penalties for non-compliance.
The Austrian government programme for 2013 to 2018 provides for an evaluation of the conditions and penalties for accounting offences. The latest ministerial draft of the 2015 Criminal Law Amendment Act proposes a reformulation of accounting offences, including the harmonisation of accounting offences, penalties and provisions on active repentance and increased penalties for commercial criminal offences.
A high degree of uncertainty prevails regarding the interpretation of 'breach of trust' under the Criminal Code, and the most recent Supreme Court convictions resulted in criticism of the extensive scope of its definition. A parliamentary motion has been tabled demanding a comprehensive reformulation of the elements of the offence, focusing on a specification of the terms 'misuse' and 'damage caused by embezzlement'.
As the issue of corporate compliance becomes increasingly important, corporations have begun implementing compliance management systems to ensure compliant behaviour. While there is still a lack of Austrian case law in this regard, a recent Munich District Court decision confirms that the failure to implement an efficient compliance system and review its effectiveness is a breach of duty.