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Penalties

Individuals

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

According to Section 299 of the Criminal Code, the perpetrator shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a monetary fine. In especially serious cases, Section 300 stipulates that the offender shall be liable to imprisonment from three months to five years.

Under Sections 299a and 299b of the Criminal Code, the perpetrator is liable to imprisonment of up to three years. Section 300 also covers especially serious cases of bribery in the healthcare sector. The law provides for a custodial sentence of three months up to five years.

In its basic form, bribery in the public sector is punishable with a custodial sentence of up to five years or a monetary fine (Sections 331 and 333 of the Criminal Code). In cases of qualified offences of granting and accepting bribes, the punishment for the public official (Section 332), as well as the ‘donor’ (Section 334), is imprisonment for three months to five years. In ‘especially serious cases’, as defined in Section 335, penalties range from one year up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Bribery in the political sphere provides for a maximum of five years of imprisonment or a fine (Section 108e).

Companies or organisations

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

Under current German law only individuals are subject to criminal liability.

However, Section 30 of the German Administrative Offences Act allows legal entities to be punished for bribery offences of their representatives or any other executive employees with fines up to €10 million. If the profit generated by the offence is higher, the fine may be as high as that profit. Thus, fines have, in some cases, exceeded €100 million. The same goes if the management of the company has intentionally or negligently not fulfilled supervisory measures that are necessary to prevent bribery by employees or agents of that company.

Alternatively to a fine, Sections 73 and 73b of the Criminal Code allow the confiscation of the economic advantage the company gained through the respective bribe.

Additionally, Section 123 obliges public entities to ban companies from procurement procedures if one of their executive employees has been sentenced for bribery.

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