Corporate Criminal Law

Corporate Criminal Law

Lawyer for Corporate Criminal Law

Investigations against companies are continually increasing. Many companies are therefore implementing compliance precautions that are coordinated with criminal law. In addition, there is a growing demand for specialised defense lawyers who can competently represent companies in complex white-collar criminal proceedings. As a recognized expert in this field, Dr. Schönborn advises and represents clients in all matters relating to corporate criminal law.
Wir bieten vertrauliche Rechtsberatung zu strafrechtlichen Risiken und Vorwürfen nach dem Verbandsverantwortlichkeitsgesetz (VbVG)

Criminal liability of companies

In Austria, corporate criminal law is primarily governed by the Corporate Criminal Liability Act (VbVG). This law stipulates that not only natural persons, but also associations – i.e. in particular companies and legal entities under public law – can be prosecuted under certain conditions.

In order for an association to be liable to prosecution, a criminal offence must have been committed in favour of the association or the offence must have violated obligations that apply to the association. In addition, a decision-maker (such as a managing director, board member or supervisory board member) or employee must have committed the offence. In the case of offences committed by employees, the offence must also have been made possible or significantly facilitated by the fact that decision-makers failed to exercise the due and reasonable care required by the circumstances, in particular by failing to take essential technical, organisational or personnel measures to prevent such offences.

Avoiding risks and responding to suspected cases

The VbVG provides for high corporate fines of up to EUR 5.4 million. Moreover, international efforts to prosecute companies under criminal law are increasing. The importance of preventive criminal law advice and Criminal Compliance is therefore constantly growing. When defending companies in the areas of Commercial Criminal Law, Corruption Criminal Law and Medical Criminal Law, we pursue a strategic approach in which we always take into account the special features of the Corporate Criminal Liability Act (VbVG). For example, the VbVG rewards specific compliance measures and allows the public prosecutor’s office to decide at its discretion whether to (further) prosecute a company or to withdraw from the prosecution. The aim of our defense strategy in corporate criminal law is to avoid a public trial by proactively shaping the investigation proceedings and taking individual precautions.

Dr. Elias Schönborn, lawyer for corporate criminal law, has many years of experience in Criminal Defense in corporate criminal law and provides precise answers to the questions of how companies can avoid criminal law risks and react correctly to suspected cases in his practical handbook Criminal Compliance (2023). He has experience in the representation and defense of ATX companies, start-ups, medium-sized companies, industrial and technology companies, law firms, non-profit associations, pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and pharmacies.

If you need professional support in this field, Dr. Elisa Schönborn is an experienced corporate criminal law attorney who will be at your side to comprehensively protect and represent your legal interests.


  • 1. What does corporate criminal law mean?

    Corporate criminal law is a sub-area of commercial criminal law that regulates the criminal liability of companies. The fundamental premise of corporate criminal law is that companies, as autonomous legal entities, are legally accountable and can be held liable for criminal offenses committed for their benefit or which violate corporate obligations. Violations of corporate criminal law are primarily punished with high fines, but can also have consequences under company law and result in a considerable loss of reputation.
    The most prevalent offenses under corporate criminal law include, for example, fraud (Sec 146 StGB), money laundering (Sec 165 StGB) and fraudulent insolvency (Sec 156 StGB).
  • 2. How can companies protect themselves against potential violations of corporate criminal law?

    The implementation of preventive compliance measures compliance measures such as an internal whistleblowing system and the creation of compliance guidelines, companies can assist companies in reducing their exposure to criminal law risks and thus liability under the Austrian Act on Criminal Liability of Associations (Verbandsverantwortlichkeitsgesetz, VbVG). Targeted training in the form of workshops or presentations can sensitize employees to possible criminal acts or violations. Personnel can be instructed on how to behave in situations relevant to criminal law and in the procedures for reporting possible violations. In the long term, a clear and efficient compliance structure can assist to uncover breaches and the protection of the company from potential violations.
  • 3. When does it make sense to consult an attorney or criminal defense lawyer specialising in corporate criminal law?

    First and foremost, it is advisable to seek legal advice if an allegation of a criminal offense is made within the company. It is of the utmost importance to take criminal allegations seriously and to conduct adequate investigations. Criminal defense lawyers for corporate criminal law have the necessary experience to effectively represent your company and develop a defense strategy tailored to your company.
    A corporate criminal lawyer can also inform you of potential risks in your individual case and sensitize you to possible mistakes in information gathering during an internal investigation. For larger companies, it is also important to consider the potential for issuing a public statement regarding the allegations made.

Do you need support in Corporate Criminal Law?

Contact us.