September 2017

CLIENT ALERT | FRA | The French Anticorruption Agency (AFA) explained (Sapin 2)

by Stéphane de Navacelle

Key Points:

  • The French Anticorruption Agency (AFA), created by the Sapin 2 law, replaces the Central Service of Corruption Prevention (SCPC).
  • The decree published on March 16, 2017 provides for the roles and responsibilities of the Agency which will comprise of a Strategic Committee, Control and expertise units and a Sanctions’ Committee.
  • The AFA will provide recommendations on the prevention and detection of corruption to public and private entities, a national anti-corruption pland, and Support to #State authorities on anti-corruption matters.
  • The AFA will control large companies’ compliance with their anti-corruption obligations and will be able to impose injunctions and/or sanctions.


Responsibilities and competences of the French Anticorruption Agency under the new Decree

The decree entered into force on March 16, 2017 and defines the three tasks of the AFA which will replace the Central Corruption Prevention Department with immediate effect.


Tasks. Pursuant to its tasks of participation in administrative coordination, the AFA will assist the competent French authorities in coordinating/cooperating with international organizations and prepare a multi-annual strategy plan for the fight against corruption. The AFA will further offer training, raise awareness and provide assistance with regard to prevention and risk detection to public authorities and any natural or legal persons. By disseminating information on how to prevent and detect corruption cases, the AFA will contribute to enforce the international commitments of French authorities.


Composition. The AFA is structured into control and expertise units, a Strategic Committee responsible for providing the overall policy and a Sanctions Committee (Article 2).


Procedure. If someone fails to comply with the duty to implement an effective anticorruption prevention and detection system, the AFA Director will issue an inspection report to the respective person and give notice to present written observations.

  1. As a follow up, the Director would also be able to issue a warning or submit a complaint to the Sanctions Committee.
  2. In this the Director may disseminate the inspection report, list observations, provide his opinion of the facts and submit a proposal for sanctions that he deems appropriate.
  3. The defendant will thereafter be informed of the charges brought against him.
  4. The Sanctions’ Committee will appoint a Rapporteur in charge of investigating the facts in an adversarial manner.
  5. The defendant, who can be assisted by counsel of his choice, shall receive Director’s opinion and be granted the right to make his own observations. After two months, the Defendant will be summoned to a public hearing (except when this could interfere with public order, business secrecy or any other legally-protected secrets) during which observation can be made orally, responding the Director’s observations (Article 5).

Separate from possible criminal procedures and independently of sanctions procedures described above, Judges and category A civil servants, who are part of the control and expertise unit may carry out unannounced on-site inspections on the premises of the contolled entity. They “should present their accreditation cards when they conduct on-site controls, which can only be done within business premises, not within private individuals’ home, and need to take place during business hours, after informing the representative of the controlled entity that he can be assisted by any person of his choice” (Article 7).

Further details on the French Anticorruption Agency’s organization provided by an administrative decision

Additional subdirectorates of the AFA. Pursuant to the terms of the administrative decision of March 14, 2017 on the organization, the AFA “includes, in addition to the Sanctions’ Committee and the Strategic Committee, the Advisory, Strategic Analysis and International Affairs Subdirectorate, the Control Subdirectorate and the General Secretariat” (Article 1).


The Advisory, Strategic Analysis and International Affairs Subdirectorate. The Advisory, Strategic Analysis and International Affairs Subdirectorate shall be in charge of the centralization, outreach and best practices. He is also responsible of recommendations to assist companies when implementing a corruption or influence-peddling risk prevention and detection system (Article 2).


The Control Subdirectorate. The Control Subdirectorate conducts off-site and on-site verifications of the implementation of compliance measures (code of conduct, whistleblower mechanism, risk mapping, evaluating procedures of clients, first rank providers and intermediaries’ situation regarding risk mapping, internal or external accounting control procedures, training arrangements for executives and personnel most exposed to the risk of corruption and influence peddling, disciplinary regime, internal framework for controlling implemented measures). It monitors the execution of decisions taken by the Sanctions Committee and controls the execution of an order to implement a compliance program. It controls the adequacy of measures regarding the prevention and detection of corruption and compliance measurest in place. In this regard it may issue recommendations for the purpose of improving existing procedures (Article 3).