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Sapin II law
Tuesday 24 May 2022

3 questions to summarise the Sapin II law

The Sapin II law, which came into force in 2017, required certain French companies (those with more than 500 employees and a turnover of more than €100 million or connected to a group meeting these criteria) to implement a set of measures to prevent the risks of corruption in their establishments. To help you understand the issues in terms of public relations in companies, we wanted to guide you by answering three key questions posed by this law.

1. Why was the Sapin II law created?

The new Sapin law is a continuation of the Sapin I law of 1993. It came into force in 2017 and its main objective is to prevent corruption, particularly in companies. The government wanted to bring French legislation in the field up to the best European and international standards. The challenge was to strengthen the rule of law and the functioning of the internal market, while giving a positive image of France internationally on its action against corruption.

"Ethics must be the compass of public and economic life" Michel Sapin said about this subject when this law was enacted. It responds to the aspirations of the French regarding transparency, ethics and justice in economic life.

2. What exactly is this law about?

To summarise and to try to make it understandable, the Sapin II law is based on three main pillars:

  • Establishing more transparency in the process of public decision-making and in economic life;
  • Improving action against corruption, particularly internationally, with preventive and repressive measures;
  • Modernising economic life while ensuring the protection of savers and investors.

It therefore deals with themes and subjects as varied as: the protection of whistleblowers, transparency on the remuneration of company directors, regulation and strengthening of transparency in the agricultural sector... For companies and their directors, it establishes obligations of means and results to prevent the risks of corruption. This requires them to act actively and put in place tools to prevent acts of corruption (internal code of conduct, training, internal whistleblowing system, risk mapping, compliance officer, accounting control procedures, etc.).

With the enactment of the law, the government also created the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) whose mission is to assist companies in the implementation of Sapin II compliance procedures.

3. What is its scope of application in companies?

When the Sapin II law was published, companies began to question their public relations events. The AFA therefore published a guide that confirms the feasibility of public relations activities. In it, it specifies that “these events are common in business life and are not sanctionable as such”.

Stade de France, a major player in public relations in France, has also dedicated a white paper to this subject: “How can you conduct a public relations activity in compliance with the Sapin II law?”. This document, which is a summary of the AFA guide on the Sapin II law, is intended to be educational and useful for any company wishing to carry out profitable and dynamic Hospitality activities that respect all the requirements of business ethics.

In it, Stade de France gives a number of useful recommendations to help minimise the risks of corruption in companies. This very practical advice invites companies to consider three key points: the purpose of the gift or invitation, its value and its frequency. And to go even further, France's largest stadium has created the “Can I accept this invitation or gift?” to help guests distinguish between an attempt at bribery and an everyday business offer in just four questions.

Would you like to learn more about this subject? Consult Stade de France's white paper and benefit from its advice.

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