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Understanding the Liabilities of Company Executives Under Turkish Criminal Law: Comprehensive Guide

Know liabilities of company executives under Turkish criminal law & potential legal consequences, personal liability, intent, types of crimes that may lead to liability. Discover how executives can prevent issues, protect themselves, their companies in the dynamic business world of Turkey | Lawyer


In the dynamic and competitive business world, company executives play a crucial role in guiding organizations towards success. However, this prominent position also comes with great responsibilities and legal obligations. In Turkey, understanding the liabilities of company executives from a criminal law perspective is of utmost importance. In this comprehensive article, we will delve into the responsibilities of company executives under Turkish criminal law, explore potential legal consequences, and provide insights on how they can prevent such issues. With the rapidly changing legal landscape, staying informed with current and accurate information is vital for executives to protect both themselves and their companies.

The Personal Nature of Criminal Liability in Turkish Law

Article 20 of the Turkish Penal Code establishes that criminal liability is personal, and no one can be held accountable for the actions of another. Furthermore, criminal sanctions cannot be imposed on legal entities; only security measures may be applied as per the law. As such, it is the real individuals within the legal entity who may be held responsible for crimes based on their guilt. Therefore, any criminal liability that a company executive faces due to their management activities will be examined under their individual criminal liability.

Intent and Fault: Pillars of Criminal Liability

In the Turkish criminal justice system, the presence of intent is fundamental to determine criminal liability. Article 21 of the Turkish Penal Code states that the commission of a crime depends on the existence of intent. Intent refers to the deliberate and knowing commission of the elements specified in the legal definition of the crime. On the other hand, negligence, although an exceptional situation, is also recognized under Article 22 of the Turkish Penal Code.

Company Executives and Criminal Liability: A Delicate Balance

As per the principle of personal liability, only the individuals who commit a crime can be held responsible. However, there is a jurisprudential view in the Court of Appeals that holds representatives and management organs of a company liable if it is not proven that company employees violated orders and prohibitions of their superiors. This view raises concerns as it may potentially create a presumption of liability against the company's representatives, undermining the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Types of Crimes that May Lead to Liability for Company Executives

Company executives in Turkey may face criminal liability for a range of offenses committed within their managerial capacities. Here are some key categories of crimes that can bring their responsibilities into question:

Crimes Against Private Life and Personal Data

Company executives, especially those who act as data controllers, may be held accountable for crimes related to the unlawful recording, disclosure, or seizure of personal data.

Crimes Against Property

Offenses such as abuse of trust, fraud, and fraudulent bankruptcy may lead to personal liability for company managers when committed for personal enrichment.

Crimes Related to Economy, Industry, and Trade

Company executives engaging in corrupt practices during tender processes, disclosing trade secrets, or engaging in insider trading may face criminal liability under this category.

Crimes Against the Reliability and Functioning of Public Administration

Bribery and influence peddling are examples of crimes that may lead to the responsibility of company executives who engage in such practices alongside public officials.

Specific Legal Provisions and Criminal Liability for Company Executives

Various Turkish laws, such as the Turkish Criminal Code, Tax Procedure Law, Enforcement and Bankruptcy Law, Turkish Commercial Code, Banking Law, and Capital Markets Law, regulate crimes that can lead to the criminal liability of company executives.

Preventing Criminal Liability: The Role of Company Executives

Preventing criminal liability for company executives starts with fostering a culture of ethical conduct and compliance within the organization. Implementing effective internal controls, governance structures, and compliance programs can significantly reduce the risk of criminal conduct.

Executives must be proactive in identifying potential legal risks and addressing them promptly. Regular training on relevant laws and regulations can ensure that executives and employees are aware of their legal responsibilities and the consequences of non-compliance.

Moreover, accurately and comprehensively determining the company's internal representation and binding authorities is crucial. Clear delineation of roles and responsibilities will facilitate the identification of those who can be held accountable for criminal acts, thus avoiding confusion and disputes.


In conclusion, the responsibilities of company executives under Turkish criminal law are profound and demand careful consideration. The principles of personal liability and intent form the basis for determining their criminal accountability. Company executives must stay vigilant and proactive in adhering to ethical standards and compliance measures to prevent potential legal issues. By doing so, they not only protect themselves from criminal liability but also safeguard the reputation and success of their companies in the ever-evolving business landscape.

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