Can DAOs be held accountable for crimes or other illegal activities?

Select jurisdiction

  • Germany
  • Italy


In German criminal law, the accused is the person against whom the criminal proceedings are directed. It is therefore necessary that this person is being investigated precisely as the accused. The question of whether a legal entity, such as a DAO, can itself be the addressee of a criminal investigation has so far been answered in the negative in case law and German legal literature. Reasons of constitutional law are usually cited: Guilt and accusation of a legal person are not possible.

The only possibility of sanctioning DAOs exists under German administrative offenses law.

Phil Hamacher

Insolvency, Tax, Crypto, DAO


Whether (a) the relevant illegal activity is listed in the
Legislative Decree no. 231/2001 (the “Decree”) as
predicate offense, (b) DAO is incorporated as one of the
entities to which the Decree applies, and (c) the offenses
are committed by DAO’s associates in its interest or to its
benefit and it has not adopted and effectively
implemented compliance programs suitable to prevent
the commission of such offense, then the DAO could be
held responsible for the sole ground of commission of
such offenses.

Lydia Mendola

IP lawyer

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