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What penalties are available to the courts for violations of corruption laws by individuals?

Under the Criminal Code, imprisonment is the sole punishment available for corruption and the illegal abuse of a position for personal gain. The legal provisions adopted by judges to determine the extent of a penalty under the code were recently widened.

Without considering aggravating circumstances, a sentence between six to 12 years will be imposed for the most serious cases of:

  • the illegal abuse of a position for personal gain (Article 317 of the Criminal Code);
  • corruption regarding a party’s performance of an action that is contrary to its duties (Article 319 of the Criminal Code); and
  • corruption in legal proceedings (Article 319ter of the Criminal Code).

A conviction for the above offences will also incur the ancillary penalty of disqualification from holding public office, which can be provisional (where certain mitigating circumstances resulted in a sentence of less than 3 years) or permanent.

While minor corruption cases regarding the conduct of duties will be punished with one to six years’ imprisonment (Article 318 of the Criminal Code), the crime of abuse of office (Article 323 of the Criminal Code) will be punished less severely with one to four years’ imprisonment.

Penalties will also be reduced in the event of induction to corruption; Article 322 of the Criminal Code provides for a one-third reduction of the statutory penalty.

In the case of all of the above offences (except an abuse of office), the payment of a sum equal to the amount unduly received by the public official by way of financial compensation in favour of the administration to which the public official belongs will be required.

Further, in cases of conviction or application of a penalty at the request of the parties, confiscation of the offender’s assets equivalent to the profit or price of the crime will be required when it is not possible to confiscate the goods representing the price or profit (Article 322ter of Criminal Code).

The ‘price’ of the crime is what is promised to a party for committing the offence, while the ‘profit’ is any financial benefit deriving directly from the crime.

Companies or organisations

What penalties are available to the courts for violations of corruption laws by companies or organisations?

With regard to legal persons, Decree-Law 231/2001 establishes that a financial penalty will apply to administrative offences totalling between €100 and €1,000. Fines range from €258 to €1,549 and are calculated on the basis of the company or organisation’s economic and financial position, in order to ensure that the penalty is effective.

Further, the decree-law provides disqualifying penalties solely for specific offences if:

  • the body derived a sizable profit from the offence; or
  • the offence was committed by a top person and was repeated.

Disqualifying penalties shall be imposed for between three and 24 months.

Further, Article 25 of Decree-Law 231/2001 governs the penalties for legal persons regarding corruption and the illegal abuse of a position for personal gain.

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