Colombian Superintendence of Corporations Issues a Guide on Conflict of Interest
Recently the Colombian Superintendence of Corporations issued a guide about the conflict of interest in which the directors of a company may be involved and the way in which they must act in case this happens. In this regard, the Superintendence recalls that, according to article 22 of Law 222 of 1995, the following are considered directors: (i) the legal representative, (ii) the members of boards of directors, (iii) the liquidator, (iv) the business manager, and (v) those who, in accordance with the bylaws, perform administrative functions. Additionally, the jurisprudence of this superintendence has understood that the alternates of the aforementioned persons when they act in such a capacity due to temporary or definitive absences of the principals, will also be considered directors. Finally, Law 1258 of 2008 establishes that those persons who are not directors of simplified joint-stock companies but who interfere in management, administration or direction activities of the company, must also comply with the directors’ responsibilities and may be subject to the sanctions applicable to them.
Additionally, the superintendence recalls that the directors’ actions must be governed by the principles of good faith, loyalty and diligence of a prudent businessman and explains each of these concepts. It is for this reason that directors must refrain from participating in activities in personal interest or that of third parties that involve competition with the company, as this would imply a conflict of interest. It is understood that there is a conflict of interest when the directors’ neutrality in decision-making processes may be affected because the interests of the company and those of the director or third parties that they may want to favor concur, as happens in the event that they want to do business with themselves or with companies represented or controlled by their relatives.
In accordance with the above, in the event that directors face a situation of conflict of interest or competition with the company, they must obtain an authorization from the highest corporate body to be able to carry out the intended activity, as long as the interests of the company are not harmed. For this, they must convene this corporate body and present all relevant information so that a decision in this regard can be made. Finally, this authority reiterates that in the event that a director does not refrain from participating in the aforementioned situations, interested parties or the Public Ministry may request: (i) the nullification and voiding of the performed acts, (ii) the restitution of matters to their previous state, (iii) sentencing the director to the payment of compensatory damages, and (iv) the imposition of pecuniary fines or penalties such as the inability to perform commercial activities. Additionally, a court of competent jurisdiction may order the aforementioned measures ex officio, that is, without the request of any interested party being required, when it is evident that these acts were carried out in violation of the directors’ obligations.
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To download the complete guide (in Spanish), you can click here.