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Specific offences and restrictions
What are the key corruption and bribery offences in your jurisdiction?
Article 5 of the Penal Law 1977 stipulates the bribery offences prosecutable and punishable under Israeli law as follows.
Bribe taking and bribery (Sections 290 to 291) A public official who agrees to or accepts any bribe in his or her official capacity may be imprisoned for up to 10 years or face a fine as set out in the law. An individual or legal person that offers or gives a public official a bribe may face a similar fine or up to seven years’ imprisonment.
Bribing a foreign public official (Section 291A) An individual or legal person that offers or gives a foreign public official any bribe in order to obtain, guarantee or promote a business activity or other related advantage will face the penalties described above.
Brokering bribery (Section 295) Individuals or legal persons are considered to have accepted a bribe if they receive (including indirectly or on behalf of another) money, a monetary equivalent, a service or any other benefit in order to offer a bribe or motivate a public official or foreign public official to discriminate or act with favouritism (Sections 295(a) and (b)).
Individual or legal persons that exert significant influence over the election of a candidate to the position of prime minister, minister, deputy minister, member of parliament or the head of a local authority will be considered to have accepted bribery if they accept money, a monetary equivalent, a service or another benefit, in order directly or indirectly to motivate the candidate to discriminate or act with favouritism in his or her official capacity (Section 295(b1)).
Lastly, an individual or legal person that offers any of the above shall be considered to have given a bribe and shall face penalties similar to those in Section 291 (Section 295(c)).
In addition to the Penal Law, each of the above bribery offences would constitute a predicate offence under Sections 2 and 3 of the Prohibition on Money Laundering Law 2000.
Are specific restrictions in place regarding the provision of hospitality (eg, gifts, travel expenses, meals and entertainment)? If so, what are the details?
The Public Service (Gifts) Law 1979 mandates that gifts received by any public official (ie, the holder of an office or position on behalf of the state, including a soldier as defined by the Military Justice Law 1955), which are not of nominal value, must be registered and become the property of the state. In addition, other specific acts provide for similar limits imposed on ministers, elected public officials in the local municipalities and members of parliament.
Similar provisions are included in the Government Service Regulations that apply to all public employees in Israel. The regulations define a ‘gift of small value’ as "a gift the value of which in shekels does not exceed NIS300 (approximately $60), excluding any gift given in cash". Section 42.76 of the regulations mandates that a public employee must turn to an office or ministerial committee to determine whether any gift received may be defined as a reasonable ‘gift of small value’, taking into account the circumstances surrounding the acceptance of the gift and the standard receipt of gifts of such kind. The public employee may accept a gift only after approval by the committee.
Other laws specifically address the acceptance of gifts and hospitality and the obligation to avoid any conflicts of interest in respect of ministers and deputy ministers, members of parliament or elected officials in local authorities. These laws include:
- the Rules on Prevention of Conflict of Interests of Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
- the Rules on Prevention of Conflict of Interests of Elected Officials in the Local Municipalities; and
- the Knesset Ethics Committee decisions on matters of conflict of interests in relation to members of parliament.
There are also various attorney general guidelines on this topic, such as Attorney General Guideline 1.1709, which prohibits the receipt of free invitations to – and tickets for – sports, arts, cultural and other events.
What are the rules relating to facilitation payments?
Facilitation payments would most probably constitute bribery under Article 5 of the Penal Law 1977. Section 293(7) to the Penal Law specifically mandates that any payment received by a public official causing it to conduct (or fail to conduct) an action in the course of its duty will be considered a bribe. This applies even when the public official has no discretion as to whether to perform the act.
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