Interpretation clarifies criteria, punishment for bribery offences

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The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) released the Interpretation of Several Issues Concerning the Application of Law in Handling Criminal Cases Related to Graft and Bribery, which includes clarifying sentencing criteria for official (those involving government officials) and commercial bribery offences. The interpretation supplements the Criminal Law, revised in late 2015 (the ninth amendment), and strengthens the continuing anti-graft campaign in China.

interpretation-clarifies-criteria-punishment-for-bribery-offencesThe ninth amendment introduced stricter measures and sanctions for both individual and corporate offenders, including people in charge of a company or directly responsible for its business activities. The interpretation provides additional guidance on when enforcement might take place and explicitly states that bribes can include intangible benefits of commercial value.

The ninth amendment introduced punishment based on unclear criteria such as “relatively large” amounts or “relatively serious” circumstances, “huge” amounts or “serious” circumstances, and “especially huge” amounts or “especially serious” circumstances. In contrast, the interpretation provides detailed descriptions of the sentencing thresholds and standards for bribe givers and recipients of official and commercial bribery. Companies will find this a useful framework for implementing robust compliance policies and for demonstrating the consequences of falling foul of the Criminal Law.

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Business Law Digest is compiled with the assistance of Baker & McKenzie. Readers should not act on this information without seeking professional legal advice. You can contact Baker & McKenzie by e-mailing Danian Zhang (Shanghai) at: danian.zhang@bakermckenzie.com

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