The majority of the population knows about administrative offenses only in the context of traffic tickets. However, such offenses are common elsewhere, particularly in the area of white-collar crime, and can be much more expensive than traffic tickets. Serious competition-law infractions or the violation of corporate supervisory duties can be punished with fines in the millions.
Although the procedure for imposing fines borrows many elements from criminal law, there are certain differences which defenders must be aware of. This is particularly true of the so-called principle of opportunity, which agencies can use to decline to prosecute an offense. This makes well-researched and strategically sophisticated communication with relevant agencies a must – in particular because they also have significant discretion when imposing penalties.
When it comes to tax deductions or possible repercussions in corporate registry law (such as inclusion in the corruption registry or notations placed in the central corporate registry), it makes a crucial difference whether the agency issues a fine order or an order to disgorge illegal gains under § 29a of the Law on Administrative Offenses.
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