Argentina looks to battle corporate and public corruption with new laws

October 22, 2016 12:05 PM EDT

Packets of U.S. American dollars notes in plastic bags in the trunk of a car are seen in this handout picture in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Argentine Ministry of Security/Handout via Reuters

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BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - The Argentine government sent to Congress this week a series of proposed laws that would heavily sanction businesses found guilty of corruption involving the public sector, according to a document seen by Reuters on Saturday.

Currently, Argentine law punishes individuals involved in such corruption cases, but not companies. Under the proposed laws, companies could be fined heavily or suspended temporarily from doing business, among other measures.

The proposed laws allow for decreased punishments for companies that collaborate in ongoing investigations or adopt internal policies that make future corruption unlikely. Punishments could be made more severe under the proposed project if high-ranking officials in a company know of the corrupt practices or if such practices cause environmental damage, among other factors.

"The threat of sanction of organizations and the possibility of mitigating responsibility after collaborating in the prevention and detection of crimes against public bodies are tools to aid the prevention of corruption," reads the proposal.

The initiative would allow for fines of up to 20 percent of a company's gross annual income and the suspension of a company from doing business for up to ten years.

(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi; Writing by Gram Slattery; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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