The 231/2001 organizational model in times of coronavirus. An immunity license against the germs of fraud and embezzlement

Our country has been in state of emergency since March 8th.

Regarding the responsible of this crisis, the sars-cov2 virus, better known as Covid-19, there is an evident lack of knowledge towards the elements that triggered the pandemic. Hopefully is the scientific community, which is working to deepen the understanding of  such elements, who will produce a valuable solution.

The world cannot stop for long. In the forthcoming weeks the psychological and physical pressure will detonate with the resumption of daily activities, which will follow the guidelines of prudence and circumspection, that have now been discovered and cultivated during the lock-down period. Infact, we will all have on our heads a huge sword of Damocles with which we will have to live: the possibility that the demon will reappear at the door causing us to fall back into another period of forced obscurantism.

In the euphoria of the restart, it is reasonable to predict that when the production machine of GDP will resume at full speed, operators in all sectors will concentrate, rightfully so, on the acquisition of primary production factors such as raw materials, human resources , plants and infrastructures. This entails the tendency to cut corners on the expenses for strategic consultancy and services, or those expenses which have the peculiarity of not having a visible and measurable economic return in the very short period.

Among these strategic products / services belong the 231 Organizational Models.

The result? Entrepreneurs who do not have an organizational model, or who have it but must maintain it, will ask themselves the question of why to adopt, and / or update, an instrument that has never been mandatory and that now, more than ever, seems to be paradoxically useless and without any practical application.

Fortunately, things are not quite like this and let's see why.

When businesses will start operating again at full capacity (hopefully as soon as possible), they will do so with huge financial resources that will be introduced into the system through various channels:

  1. From the ECB on the banking system and trough such to the entrepreneurs
  2. From the ECB to the State and trough such to the entrepreneurs
  3. From the State directly to entrepreneurs, even with tax breaks
  4. By State entities and financial institutions in favour of the entrepreneurs
  5. By banks, on their own initiative, in favour of entrepreneurs
  6. In the economic circuit directly by financially solid operators
  7. Etc. etc.

It is common knowledge that huge flows of money generally tend to attract criminal conducts by those, numerous in our country, who see in the malfeasance shortcuts for illegitimate personal gains to the detriment of the whole community.

Therefore, entrepreneurs who need financial resources must have a sense of reliability and profound respect for ethics. They must transmit clear and visible signs of being in command of a company that works in full compliance with legal and moral rules.

Large companies are generally equipped with compliance and audit systems that guarantee information flows to all stakeholders. On the other hand, there are many companies, even of considerable size, which have no internal and external control systems.

For these entities not equipped with structured control systems, which have in mind the improvement of the gradient of external reliability, the organizational model 231 can come to help. With its function of prevention and control, the 231 model fulfills with full merit the role of system suitable for prevent fraudulent conduct towards all interlocutors who will have to "grant" resources to activate the restart: state, public bodies, banks, social organizations, the European Community and international financial institutions.

The companies that will be equipped with the 231 organizational model will present themselves with a profile that will incorporate the DNA of respect for ethics and rules of coexistence in the social and business fabric of the society. Unfortunately, to date, this strategic mission of the 231 model is struggling to break through. It is seen as an optional, and therefore unnecessary and expensive, fulfillment. We therefore hope that the Legislator will instead transform it into a virtuous obligation, and we also hope that a legal procedure will be introduced to certify its validity.

Anyone with a certified 231 organizational model will show up with an immunity license against the germs of fraud and embezzlement.

Currently, pending the mentioned desired legislative interventions, the advice we feel we can give to all the entities that need it, is to implement and / or update the organizational models 231 in for the sake of that sense of pragmatism that, precisely, the Covid experience has strongly re-proposed: prevention is better than cure.

Find out more about RSM's methodological approach to 231 Organizational Models, click here.


Giovanni Taliento – Partner RSM