The Public Prosecution Service issued two sets of guidelines on the investigation and prosecution of corruption in the Netherlands. Both guidelines took effect on 1 August 2011 and underline an increased focus on tackling corrupt practices in the Netherlands. The Public Prosecution Service has appointed a specialised public prosecutor to prosecute corrupt practices in accordance with these guidelines.

Bribery of public officials in the Netherlands

The guidelines describe factors relevant in detecting and prosecuting bribery of public officials in the Netherlands. For instance, in determining whether a gift constitutes criminal conduct several factors should be considered, including:

  • the initiative to make the gift
  • the value of the gift and the extent to which the gift is socially accepted
  • the degree to which the public official could know that his actions were prohibited
  • the secrecy of the gift
  • whether the gift was of an incidental nature
  • the nature of the relationship between the person making the gift and the recipient
  • the possibility of other criminal prosecution
  • the consequences of the public official's actions

Bribery of public officials abroad

Bribery of a Dutch public official by a foreigner and bribery of a foreign public official by a Dutch national are both prohibited in the Netherlands. The guidelines include jurisdiction-related matters and the relevant factors in deciding whether to prosecute corrupt practices involving foreign officials. Factors that are considered relevant in deciding not to prosecute, include:

  • the matter concerns action or inaction to which the public official was already obliged
  • the payment does not have any anti-competitive effect
  • the matter concerns, in absolute or relative terms, small amounts
  • the gift is entered in the company's books and records in a transparent manner and is not concealed
  • the foreign official took the initiative with regard to the gift

As from 1 April 2010, the fine for bribing public officials is raised from category 4 to category 5. Furthermore, bribery is a criminal offence for which a confiscation claim can be instituted. The assumption is that confiscation will be sought when the advantage obtained has been estimated at a minimum amount of EUR 500.