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From apathy to advocacy: Germany’s growing support for compliance programs

Nicole Willms (nwillms@pohlmann-company.com) is a partner at Pohlmann & Company in Frankfurt/Main, Germany.

Compared to other jurisdictions, first and foremost the United States, compliance management is a fairly new corporate governance topic among German companies. For decades the concept of compliance was a “legal transplant” mainly recognized and taken seriously by large global companies having to comply with foreign standards. Lately, however, more and more increasingly complex compliance requirements are finding their way into German law, becoming applicable for medium-sized and even smaller German companies. Maintaining an adequate compliance program is evolving from a best practice fiduciary measure of self-control and protection of a company’s assets and reputation to a legally promoted instrument of prevention and relief from regulatory, if not even criminal, liability.

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