Search for:

In brief

On 15 May 2023, in the context of the parliamentary discussions of the bill No. 13204-07, which amends various legal bodies to expand the criminal liability of legal entities and regulate the exercise of criminal action with respect to the crimes against the socioeconomic state, the Executive is now ready for the Bill’s enactment into law.

Key points

The main purpose of the Bill is to broaden the criminal liability of companies, systematize economic and environmental crimes and establish their respective penalties. Consequently, it regulates a catalog that establishes different categories of crimes, in order to qualify them as economic crimes and thus, apply the differentiated statute of penalties. In addition, it establishes a special system for the determination of the penalty, substitution of penalties and determination and amount of the fine, as well as special prohibitions.

In Detail

1. New crimes against the environment.

Operations without Environmental Qualification

The Bill modifies the Penal Code, introducing a title called “Crimes against the environment”. It criminalizes and punishes those who, without having submitted their activity to an environmental impact assessment, knowing that they are obliged to do so, carry out any of these activities:

  • Discharge polluting substances into marine or inland waters.
  • Extract continental waters, whether surface or subway, or maritime waters.
  • Dump or deposit polluting substances in the soil or subsoil, continental or maritime.
  • Dump soil or other solids into wetlands.
  • Extract components from the soil or subsoil.
  • Release polluting substances into the air.

The penalties for this offense range from one day to three years imprisonment or reclusion.

Non-compliance with environmental management standards

It establishes penalties for those who, having authorization to discharge, release or extract any of the substances or elements listed in the statue, violate an emission or environmental quality standard, fail to comply with the measures established in a prevention, decontamination or environmental management plan, fail to comply with an Environmental Qualification Resolution or any condition associated with the granting of the authorization. However, it is established the condition that the offender must have been administratively sanctioned in at least two different sanctioning procedures for serious or very serious infractions, within the ten years prior to the punishable act and committed in relation to the same unit subject to control by the authority.

The penalties for this offense range from one day to three years of imprisonment or reclusion.

Extraction of water

On the other hand, it punishes whoever, having authorization to extract continental, surface or subway waters, extracts them in violation of the rules of their distribution and use in any of the circumstances regulated by the aforementioned article.

The penalties for this offense range from one day to three years of imprisonment or reclusion.

Water pollution

The Bill also punishes anyone who, by pouring, depositing or releasing polluting substances, or extracting water or components from the soil or subsoil, seriously affects maritime or continental, surface or subway waters, the soil or subsoil, whether continental or maritime, or the air, or animal or plant health, the existence of water resources or the supply of drinking water, or who seriously affects wetlands by pouring soil or other solids into them.

The penalties for this crime range from one day to ten years of imprisonment or reclusion.

Affecting protected areas

This Bill penalizes anyone who seriously affects one or more of the environmental components of a virgin region reserve, a national park, a natural monument, a national reserve or a wetland of international importance. Next, it states that serious damage to one or more environmental components will be understood as the adverse change produced in any of them, provided that it consists of any of the following circumstances:

  • Having a relevant area extension, according to the ecological or geographic characteristics of the affected area.
  • To have prolonged effects in time.
  • Be irreparable or difficult to repair.
  • Reaching a significant group of species, according to the characteristics of the affected area.
  • Affect species categorized as extinct, extinct in the wild, critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.
  • Serious risk of severe damage to the health of one or more people.
  • Significantly affect the ecosystem services or functions of the environmental element or component.

The penalties for this crime range from two years and one day to ten years of imprisonment or reclusion.

2. Amendment of the Law that creates the Ministry, the Environmental Evaluation Service and the Superintendence of the Environment.

Amendments are made to the Organic Law of the Superintendence of the Environment, incorporating new articles. These articles establish criminal penalties for those who:

  • Maliciously in the environmental evaluation of a project presents information that hides, moderates, alters or diminishes the future environmental effects or impacts determined in the environmental evaluation, in such a way that it could lead to an incorrect approval of the environmental qualification resolution
  • Maliciously divides its projects or activities to avoid the environmental impact assessment system or to change the way to enter it.
  • Maliciously submit false or incomplete information to the Superintendence of the Environment to accredit compliance with obligations imposed in an environmental qualification resolution, emission standards, remediation plans, compliance programs, prevention or decontamination plans, or any other environmental management instrument under its jurisdiction.
  • Failure to comply with the closure sanctions imposed by the Superintendence of the Environment or other measures imposed, such as the payment of a fine, reparation of damage and indemnification of damages.
  • Impedes or significantly obstructs the inspection activities carried out by the Superintendence of the Environment.

The penalties for this crime range from one day to two years of imprisonment or reclusion, and a fine of 50 to 1,000 UTM (1 UTM as of today is approximately USD 78. It is a legal currency indicator in Chile, indexed to prevent inflation).

Click here to access the Spanish version.


Mirco Hilgers advises on legal matters related to Chilean mining law. He also has extensive experience and deep local knowledge in matters related to natural resources, energy and infrastructure. Mr. Hilgers is a frequent columnist on mining and energy legal issues in Diario Financiero, Diario Estrategia, Diario El Pulso, Revista Minería Chilena and Qué Pasa Minería. He was nominated as one of the Chilean Leading Lawyers for natural resources law by Qué Pasa in 2013, and by The Legal 500. Chambers Latin America 2015 ranks him as an up-and-coming partner. He is currently professor of Chilean mining law at the Universidad Alberto Hurtado.


Santiago Vial is an associate and member of the Energy, Mining and Infrastructure Group. He joined Baker McKenzie in 2014, having previously worked as paralegal in the Dispute Resolution Group in 2012.


Jose Gutierrez is an Associate in Baker McKenzie, Santiago office.

Write A Comment