Criminal Liability of legal entities in Central and South America


In the last decade, the criminal liability of legal persons has been incorporated into the Criminal Codes of the different Ibero-American countries. Proof of this is that more than half of the countries already have a specific provision in their Criminal Code or in a specific law that establishes the criminal liability of legal persons. However, it is interesting to note that the Republic of Cuba already established the criminal liability of legal persons in 1997.

Along the same lines, it can also be observed that in countries such as Brazil, the system of criminal liability of legal entities has only been established for a specific type of crime (environment), an interesting element that indicates a possible start to the future expansion of the types of crimes that entail criminal liability of the legal entity.

Finally, it is important to highlight the important similarity between the analyzed systems in Central and South America and the continental regimes, with special influence of the Spanish Criminal Code.

A table with a summary of the status of the issue in the different countries is attached below:

Country Nature of the liability Closed or open list of crimes/offenses Legal possibility of exemption due to the availability of Compliance
Argentina Criminal Closed list Yes
Bolivia Criminal Closed list No
Brazil Criminal Closed list (only crimes against the environment) No
Chile Criminal Closed list Yes
Colombia Administrative Closed list Yes (Transparency and ethics programs)
Costa Rica Criminal Closed list Yes
Cuba Criminal Closed list No
Dominican Republic Criminal Closed list No
Ecuador Criminal Closed list Yes
El Salvador Administrative Closed list No (only for specific conducts such as, money laundering).
Guatemala Criminal Open list No
Mexico Criminal Closed list No (only some federal entities do take them into consideration)
Nicaragua Criminal (accessory consequences) Open list No
Panama Criminal Closed list Yes
Paraguay Administrative Closed list Yes
Peru Criminal Closed list Not regulated, except in specific sectors
Uruguay Administrative Closed list No
Venezuela Administrative Closed list No

Compliance Department of Molins Defensa Penal.

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