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What Penalties Can Be Enforced If Anticorruption Legislation Is Broken?


The maximum penalties that can be imposed on a conviction for a foreign bribery crime committed after July 1, 2017 are as follows: for a single person: a sentence of up to ten years in jail; a fine of 10,000 penalty units (one penalty unit is worth A$210 at the moment, hence the maximum fine is AU$2.1 million); or both incarceration and a monetary penalty; and The bigger of the following for a corporation: a penalty of up to 100,000 penalty units (about A$21 million); or if the court cannot determine the value of the benefit obtained directly or indirectly that is reasonably attributable to the offending conduct, three times the value of the benefit; or if the court cannot determine the value of the benefit obtained directly or indirectly that is reasonably attributable to the offending conduct, three times the value of the benefit; or If the court is unable to identify the value of the benefit, the court may award 10% of the corporation’s annual revenue for the 12-month period ending at the end of the month in which the offence occurred (which is described in the legislation as the turnover period). Individuals can face a variety of punishments under state law and other Commonwealth domestic bribery offenses, ranging from large fines to five to ten years in prison. In Australia, there is no law that requires a corporation convicted of corruption to be excluded from public procurement, other government benefits, or assistance work, or to be barred from engaging in specific economic operations. If the Australian Securities and Investment Commission initiates civil penalty proceedings against directors or officers of a company for alleged breach of statutory duties (based on the underlying conduct constituting the alleged corruption or bribery), the court may, upon declaration of offending conduct, in breach of statutory duty, make orders disqualifying such individuals.



In the event of a public corruption conviction: Individuals: six months to fifteen years in prison and a fine of €800 to €800,000; corporations: six months to fifteen years in prison and a fine of €800 to €800,000; individuals: six months to fifteen years in Fines range from €24,000 to €1.6 million for businesses. If the corrupt person is a foreign public official or a member of an international public organization, the sanctions can be multiplied by five, resulting in fines of up to €4 million for individuals and €8 million for businesses. In the event of a private corruption conviction: Individuals: six months to three years in prison and a fine of €800 to €400,000; and corporations: six months to three years in prison and a fine of €800 to €400,000; and Fines range from €24,000 to €800,000. An offender’s conviction for private or public corruption also includes: confiscation (forfeiture) of the property forming the offence’s object or instrumentalities when it belongs to the convicted person (required); the result of the crime (required); and the proceeds of the crime, whether direct or indirect (gross) (discretionary). In the event of a conviction for public or private corruption, the court may further impose additional penalties, such as: a prohibition from participating in public procurement (which is mandatory and lasts for five years); a three-to-ten-year ban on performing particular jobs, activities, or professions (e.g., director of a firm); rights are revoked (for example, the right to hold a public office or eligibility for five to ten years); and/or winding up of the firm, but only if the corporation was purposefully formed to commit corruption crimes or if its purpose was purposefully altered to commit such crimes.



For entities subject to the Sapin II Act requirements, violations of anti-corruption laws may result in criminal sanctions from criminal courts and/or administrative sanctions by the AFA Enforcement Committee. Criminal courts: For corruption or related offenses, criminal courts may impose one or more of the following sanctions: Penalty for noncompliance with the program; (up to ten years in prison); okay; prohibition to engage in the activity in which the infraction was committed directly or indirectly for a period of not more than five years; exclusion from government contracts; and any extra punishments Alternatively, a settlement agreement might be pursued to conclude a prosecution without a criminal conviction, as noted above. When the AFA considers that a firm has failed to execute an anti-corruption compliance program in accordance with the Sapin II Act, the AFA’s director may issue a warning to the firm’s legal counsel or launch a sanctions proceeding before the AFA Enforcement Committee. The AFA Enforcement Committee has the authority to apply one or more of the administrative sanctions listed below: caution; within three years, an injunction to adopt compliance processes for the prevention and detection of acts of corruption or influence peddling; Individuals (e.g., chairman, CEO) can be fined up to €200,000, while legal entities can be fined up to €1 million. The sanction will be published at the company’s expense. Before the AFA Enforcement Committee, the company may be represented by legal counsel.



A fine or imprisonment can be imposed on natural persons who commit a corruption offense (up to five years). Companies that are found guilty of acts of corruption under Section 30 of the Act on Administrative Offenses may face monetary penalties. ‘Association fines’ may be up to €10 million under Section 30(2)(1) of the Act on Administrative Offences, whereas fines imposed under Section 30(3) in conjunction with Section 17(4) of the Act on Administrative Offences may be much higher. Companies may be particularly sensitive to the ‘name and shaming’ form of discipline. Final decisions imposing fines subject to Section 30 of the Act on Administrative Offenses must be entered in the Competition Register, according to Sections 3 and 2(1)(3) of the Competition Register Act. Because contracting authorities are required to review the register, the company’s registration may prevent it from participating in public procurement procedures.



On summary conviction under the Corruption Act, penalties vary from a fine of up to €5,000 to a 12-month prison sentence and/or confiscation of property equal to the amount of the gift or advantage received in connection with the conduct. On indictment, penalties include an unlimited fine, up to ten years in prison, and/or confiscation of property equal to the amount of the gift or advantage gained in connection with the offence. In such cases, the court may order an Irish official to relinquish his or her post and be barred from assuming office in certain Irish official posts for up to ten years.



Bribery of Swiss or foreign public authorities, both active and passive, can result in a five-year prison sentence or a monetary penalty. Bribery (both active and passive) in the private sector, as well as offering or receiving an advantage, are punishable by up to three years in prison or a monetary punishment. Bribery of private individuals is prosecuted solely on complaint, rather than ex officio, in minor circumstances. Companies that fail to take all necessary efforts to prevent bribery in their organization may be penalized up to CHF 5 million under Article 102 of the SCC. Sanctions may also include: Article 67 of the SCC prohibits the practice of a profession. Publication of the decision (SCC Article 68); Expulsion from Switzerland for foreigners (see Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration, Articles 62, paragraph 1 lit b and 63, paragraph 1 lit a); and confiscation of assets or profits obtained illegally as a result of a specific violation (see Article 70 of the SCC). If the assets subject to forfeiture are no longer available, the state will file a compensation claim, and the accused will be required to pay a sum of equal value (Article 71 of the SCC). There is no limit on the amount of assets that can be forfeited. It is also possible to withdraw a license or cancel subsidies as a result of administrative action.



A person convicted of a bribery offence can be imprisoned for up to 12 months, fined up to £5,000, or both. The maximum penalty for any of these offenses if convicted in a higher court is ten years in prison, a fine, or both. A corporation that commits a violation of Section 7 may be penalized. According to the Sentencing Council’s Definitive Guidelines on Fraud, Bribery, and Money Laundering, the court should ensure that the fine is large enough to have a significant financial impact on the company, “which will drive home to both management and shareholders the importance of operating within the law.” Prosecutors can utilize the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to recover criminal assets, whereas the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 allows directors to be disqualified for general wrongdoing. Under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006, a ban on competing for public contracts can be enforced. Despite the fact that the DPA between the SFO and Serco Geografix Ltd in 2019 (see question 6.3) pertained to fraud and fraudulent accounting relating public contracts, the company and its parent business were not prohibited from such contracts. The value of the wrongdoing, the need to remove the benefit of the bribery/corruption, and the company’s worth are used to compute DPA penalty. While the potential impact on shareholders and employees must be addressed, it is anticipated that in some situations a fine will be required to put a company out of business.


United Arab Emirates

Companies and people face different punishments, but both can be severe. Bribery carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison, as well as a fine equivalent to the bribe or AED 5,000. (whichever is higher). Other corruption-related offenses will result in a fine and/or a prison sentence. Supervisory agencies can apply further administrative sanctions for money laundering and terrorism financing, such as: monetary penalties exclusion from some industries; Trade licenses are being revoked; business operations are halted; restrictions on board members or owners; and there are cautions Fines and possible administrative penalties are the consequences for businesses, as detailed in question 5.5.


United States of America

The FCPA stipulates that corporations and other commercial organizations can be fined up to $2 million for each criminal infraction of the anti-bribery provisions. Individuals, including officials, directors, stockholders, and agents, face fines of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison. The FCPA stipulates that corporations and other business organizations can be fined up to $25 million for any breach of the accounting standards. Individuals can face fines of up to $5 million and 20 years in prison (DOJ and SEC, “A Resource Guide to the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” at 68 (2012, revised 2015)). Courts can impose much larger fines under the Alternative Fines Act (18 USC 3571(d)) – up to twice the profit acquired by the offender by making the corrupt payment (id). Anti-bribery regulations are punishable by civil fines of up to $16,000 per infraction (id at 69). The SEC may seek a civil penalty of not more than the larger of the following amounts for violations of the accounting provisions: the total amount of the defendant’s monetary gain as a result of the violations; or a monetary restriction that ranges from $7,500 to $725,000 (id). Additional non-exhaustive consequences include suspension or debarment from federal government contracts, cross-debarment by multilateral development banks, and suspension or revocation of some export permits (id at 70).