A recent news headline has been the use of slave labor on Thai fishing boats. During the course of the investigation, CP Foods has been implicated for purchasing fish meal from these Thai fishing boats and that the use of slave labor has been known for several years. We will not look into the merits of the charge but a question of interest is whether a corporation can be charged with criminal liability in Thailand.
There is no definition of corporate crime in the Thai Criminal Code. Corporate Criminal Liability is imported from corporate civil liability by holding the company responsible for criminal acts. Corporate Crime is generally defined as crimes committed by individuals acting within the scope of their employment with the intention to benefit the corporation. If the employee purchased items made from slave labor with knowledge of the goods illegality for the company, the employee can be charged with the crime of accessory to a crime.
A Corporation is a juristic person or a legal person under the law. The Thai Supreme Court has declared that as a legal person, a corporation can be subject to criminal law. As such, the Corporation can be charged with a crime if all the elements of the crime have been met. The difference is that a Corporation cannot be incarcerated but the company can be dissolved (death penalty) or required to pay fines.
Company directors or managers may be criminally liable for offenses made by the company’s employees and could be incarcerated for crimes made for the company. The director or manager is not liable for passive act such as the lack of adequate instruction. The director or manager’s actions must be deliberate with intent or knowledge of the illegality of the action.
Returning to the original question, could CP Foods be criminally charged with a crime? How about the Company Directors and Managers, could they be charged from the actions of a purchasing agent? There must be evidence that the Company or Directors knew of the slave labor and with intent continued purchase the fishmeal even with knowledge of the product source.