The offence of corruption in business encompasses different criminal conducts. These acts are based on accepting bribes for the purpose of securing a contract. They also take place in order to gain competitive advantages over other companies.
What is the crime of corruption in business
The first thing we would like to point out is that the offence of corruption in business groups together several offences. According to the law, this offence occurs when a supplier promises gifts, money or any other benefit to the managers of a company. The purpose of this act is to obtain the allocation of goods or services.
It is important to note that accepting any financial amount or gifts to benefit an organisation is also an offence of this type. In conclusion, when we talk about the crime of corruption in business we are dealing with the following:
- Bribery offence between private individuals. If this offence takes place in the context of public figures, it is defined as the offence of influence peddling and bribery.
- Crime against the market and consumers.
- Money laundering offence.
The offence of corruption in business aims to protect competitiveness among organisations, which is a determining factor for the proper functioning of the market.
Characteristics of the crime of corruption in business
Here are some of the characteristic factors of this offence:
- Firstly, the offence of corruption in business punishes business conduct that seeks to gain an advantage over its competitors by engaging in illegal acts. In other words, using illicit resources to prevent other companies from legally achieving their goals.
- We would also like to point out that there is no exact regulation for this criminal act, which is why it is simply based on corruption.
- For a real impact to occur in the criminal context, the favours have to involve a significant advantage over other companies. Some of these favours that are attributed to the commission of the offence are:
- Those that signify benefit of financial gain or savings, by means of a contract.
- Favours that, through the receipt of commercial data, give an advantage over another company.
Where is the offence of corruption in business dealt with?
The offence of corruption is described in the Penal Code. Specifically, this criminal conduct is described in Chapter XI and Title XIII; in articles 286 to 289.
Until today, the criminalisation of this offence has changed in the Penal Code. In 2010, it was included for the first time in the norm, being reformed in 2015 and 2019. All the amendments that have been made so far apply more severe sanctions against the commission of this offence in order to put an end to it.
Types of business corruption offences
There is no single way of committing the offence of corruption in business, as specified in the Criminal Code.
Corruption between private individuals
This is the unjustified granting or promising of advantages to a business representative, with the purpose that this person helps with respect to other business competitors.
For example, the representative of a shoe factory offers €100,000 to a manager of the distribution company, if the latter signs an exclusive contract for the purchase of shoes.
Version of the offence of passive corruption
This form of the offence occurs when a company receives benefits without prior justification with the commitment to illegally assist a third party in business relations.
Continuing with the previous example, in this case, the manager of a company receives money promised by the representative of a company to finance his projects, but undertakes to buy only with the latter.
It should be noted that even the offer, without being executed, gives rise to the commission of the offence. It is sufficient to have the intention to accept the benefit for oneself or in favour of third parties.
Corruption in international business transactions
This type of offence is described in Article 286 of the Criminal Code. Specifically, the law condemns any corrupt conduct based on offering improper advantages to an international official or authority to perform or omit to perform an action related to his or her public functions.
It is not only the offering of benefits to retain business or contracts that is punishable, but any person who accepts the corrupt requests of these officials.
Penalties for business corruption offences
The penalties for this type of offences are as follows:
- Deprivation of liberty for a period of six months up to four years.
- Prohibition to carry out commercial or industrial activities for a period of one to six years.
- Fine equivalent to three times the amount of the advantage.
These penalties also apply to any individual who offers unjustified benefits to these persons.
Aggravated form of the offence of business corruption
In addition to the penalties outlined above, the offence of corruption in business has an aggravated form which is described in article 286 of the Penal Code. Taking this into account, it is considered particularly serious in the following cases:
- The advantage in question involves a high amount.
- The criminal act is repeated by the perpetrator.
- The actions take place within a criminal organisation.
- The purpose of the negotiation is on essential goods.
- The offence is intended to have an impact on the gambling process.
- The acts are carried out in the framework of professional or international sports competitions.
In the event that some of the above conditions coincide, the offence is punishable by the appropriate penalty plus half.
Attenuated form of the offence of business corruption
In these cases, the court or judge in charge has the power to impose lesser penalties and reduce the fine at its discretion.
However, it is key to examine the amount of the advantage, as well as the consequences of the perpetrator's actions.