The United Arab Emirates (UAE) currently lacks a comprehensive anti-corruption law. Specific provisions dealing with anti-corruption and bribery (directly or indirectly) are included in a number of federal and local laws.
Several provisions in UAE laws, most notably the Penal Code, provide definitions of bribery. Bribery is defined as anything that confers a benefit on a public or private sector employee.
Article 5 of the Penal Code defines a public official as: “Shall be regarded a public official under this Law any individual working at a federal or municipal level in any legislative, executive, administrative, or judicial position, whether appointed or elected:
Anyone in charge of the major authority’s job, as well as those in ministries and government departments
Armed forces personnel are those who serve in the armed forces.
Employees in the security services
Members of the judiciary, chairmen of legislative councils, advisory councils, and municipal councils, as well as their associates
Any person who has been delegated by a governmental authority to carry out a specified task within the parameters of the task.
Chairmen, directors, and managers of public authorities, public enterprises, and firms wholly or partially controlled by a federal or local government Chairmen, directors, and managers of public associations and establishments that provide public benefits
(a) For the Individuals Involved
Any public official who is found guilty of a bribe-related crime (offering, accepting, or promising) will face a fine equal to the benefit accepted (provided the fine is not less than AED 5,000), confiscation of the actual benefit accepted, and, depending on the circumstances of each case, a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Individuals who are found guilty of receiving a bribe in exchange for exerting influence over a public official could face a sentence of up to five years in jail.
(b) For the business or legal entity
Entities may also be held accountable if their “inaction” resulted in the facilitation of the bribery in issue, whether they were aware of the bribery operations or not. Corporate persons are accountable for any criminal conduct performed on their behalf or in their names by their representatives, directors, or agents, according to Article 65 of the Penal Code. In such a case, the court may only impose fines, confiscations, and other criminal sanctions on the corporate person as permitted by law. If the criminal sentence includes other major penalties in addition to a fine, just the fine (up to AED 500,000) will be applied. The preceding is without prejudice to any other specific law that imposes additional penalties.
In this context, the employer’s vicarious liability is discussed under Civil Transaction Law No. 5 of 1985.
In practice, courts assess situations on a case-by-case basis and sentence the culpable employee/entity accordingly, despite the provisions outlined before. The Public Prosecutor has a lot of discretion in this area, which can lead to discrepancy in enforcement and penalties levied.
In the United Arab Emirates, there are no political parties, and public officials are appointed by either the government or the rulers of each emirate (as the case may be).
In the United Arab Emirates, there is no regulatory standard for commercial courtesy. When providing business courtesy to public authorities, however, the following aspects should be carefully examined:
The monetary value of such commercial courtesy;
The frequency with which they are extended;
The purpose for which they are extended.
The value of such gifts and hospitality to both the recipient and the giver
Business courtesies that only benefit the recipient are more likely to be deemed improper. A business politeness that is related to the company’s main business and the function of the relevant official, such as the provision of necessary training, is more likely to be accepted. Paid travel expenditures, for example, would be unlikely to be regarded unlawful if provided in conjunction with a demonstration or training program, unless the value was exorbitant. Similarly, if the expenses for attending a third-party conference are related to the activities of the relevant official, it is unlikely to be regarded illegal (although in such cases, we would ordinarily recommend that the invitation to attend be addressed through the competent organizational unit at the relevant ministry or government agency). Meals would be unlikely to be regarded unlawful if they were provided as basic sustenance during a business meeting and were not excessive in value.
Promotional things with the company’s insignia or logo would be more justified than unbranded things, as long as the value of the things presented is not excessive. On the other hand, entertainment (golfing, concerts, sporting events, and so on) is less likely to be accepted, as it would be difficult to justify as being related to the official’s duties.
In any case, any invitation to participate in an event that includes payment of business courtesies should be delivered to the official who will be receiving the courtesies’ manager/supervisor/team head, who will assign a direct beneficiary or provide approval.
The accepting, taking, offering, and solicitation of bribes are all banned under the Civil Service Laws. Under these laws, government employees should only accept symbolic advertising or promotional gifts bearing the name and emblem of the entity presenting them (as opposed to bribes), and each ministry must define the organizational unit allowed to accept gifts on its behalf in accordance with its regulations and standards.
Finally, a public servant (or any relative up to the fourth degree) may not accept any gifts, hospitality, or services from any person if it results in any obligation; if it has a direct or indirect effect on the public servant’s objectivity in carrying out his or her duties; or if it mig
As previously indicated, the United Arab Emirates lacks comprehensive anti-corruption laws. The Penal Code contains specific measures dealing with anti-corruption and bribery (directly or indirectly) in the private sector.
Only the individual who demands, accepts, or promises a bribe (reward) in exchange for committing or omitting an act in violation of his or her position’s duties would be guilty of an infraction under the Penal Code, according to Article 236 bis of the Penal Code. The recipient in this case is any manager or employee of a private sector organization, as specified by the Penal Code.
(a) For the Individuals Involved
Individuals who request, accept, or pledge bribes in the private sector face a fine equal to the advantage received (provided the fine is not less than AED 5,000), confiscation of the actual benefit received, and a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
By virtue of Law No. 7 of 2016, Article 236 bis of the Penal Code was revised to make it easier to prosecute bribery in the private sector, allowing the offeror of a bribe to be charged as well.
(b) for the business or legal entity
Entities can also be held accountable if their “inaction” resulted in the facilitation of the bribery in issue, whether they were aware of the bribery operations or not. Corporate persons are accountable for any criminal conduct performed on their behalf or in their names by their representatives, directors, or agents, according to Article 65 of the Penal Code. In such a case, the court may only impose fines, confiscations, and other criminal sanctions on the corporate person as permitted by law. If the criminal sentence includes other major penalties in addition to a fine, just the fine (up to AED 500,000) will be applied.