Anti-bribery legislation and enforcement agencies
Penal Code No 58 of 1937 regulates the act of bribery, whether to public officials or private employees.
- The code prohibits bribery of public officials
- It regulates bribes offered to employees in the private sector, in addition to those offered to the board members, directors or employees of joint stock companies in Egypt.
- The Egyptian Penal Code does not explicitly recognize nor regulate the corruption of foreign public officials. However, it recognizes the concept of extraterritoriality.
- Investigating authority: Ministry of Interior Affairs
- Regulator with jurisdiction to prosecute corruption: The general provisions of the Criminal Procedures Code do not indicate a specific regulator with exclusive responsibilities to prosecute corruption cases. Yet, in pursuance of the General Instructions issued by the General Prosecutor, a division named State Prosecution was established, which specializes on prosecuting – among other crimes- bribery cases.
In this respect, it is worth noting that in practice, any prosecutor may handle the interrogation on bribery cases in the event that such cases are of less importance in terms of the amount of the bribe, the parties, and the governmental authority for which the public officer works. Yet, once a prosecutor finalizes the interrogations, all cases shall be mandatorily referred to the State Prosecution, which will issue a decision on the case. In other words, the State Prosecutor will decide whether to shelve the case or refer it to the criminal court.
A person is guilty of an offense if :
- Articles 103 to 111 of the Penal Code address bribery (the “Law”).
- The Law punishes any questionable activity or a payment or promise of payment or benefit to a public official (i.e., public or government employees).
- The foundation of an act of bribery requires the following three elements to be present:
- The recipient must be a public official or private employee as the case may be.
- There must be a “gift,” a “benefit” or a “promise” that will constitute the material/physical element of the crime.
- There must be requisite criminal intent (mens rea).
Consequences of bribery
For public Official:
- Imprisonment, up to restrictive imprisonmen t depending on the crime attributed to the accused
- A fine not less than EGP1,000, depending on the crime attributed to the accused
- In all cases, the ruling shall order the confiscation of whatever is paid by the briber or mediator by way of a bribe, in addition to ancillary penalties.
For private employee:
- Any employee who demands for himself or herself, or for a third party, or accepts or takes a promise or donation without the knowledge or consent of his master (employer), in order to perform or refrain from performing work or the duties he or she is charged with to fulfil, shall be considered a bribe-taker and shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and a fine of not less than EGP200 but not exceeding EGP500, or either penalty.
- Any board member of a joint stock company, a cooperative association or a union established according to the rules prescribed legally, or of any establishment or association that is legally considered a public utility, and any director or employee of these bodies who demands for himself or herself, or for a third party, accepts or takes a promise or donation to perform or refrain from performing work or duties inherent to his or her position, or which he or she erroneously believes or alleges to be part of the duties of his or her position, or to default on the duties of the position shall be considered a bribe-taker and shall be liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years and a fine of not less than EGP500 but not exceeding what he or she was given or promised to be given, even if the felon has in mind not to effect the work, or not to refrain from it, or not to default on the duties of his or her position. In this event , it should be noted that he or she shall not be eligible to be a board member in a joint stock company or be a manager of a limited liability company.
- In all cases, the ruling shall order confiscating whatever is paid by the briber or mediator by way of a bribe, according to the previous articles.
For the company / legal entity:
The Law does not adopt the principle of criminal responsibility of legal entities such as corporations, except with respect to specific financial crimes that are not relevant to the crime of bribery.
Limitation applicable to hospitality expenses (gifts, travel, meals, entertainment, among others):
- In principle, the Law does not distinguish if the value of a gift is small or large. Any amount, however small, is subject to the Law. Therefore, “grease” or facilitation payments are strictly regarded as bribes.
- However, entertainment expenses and small gifts given in certain occasions may be received, provided that they are not given or received for the purpose of corrupting a government official.
- By and large, the amount spent on business entertainment should be reasonable in light of what is customary and appropriate in the context in which the entertainment takes place. A customary business lunch or dinner that is neither lavish nor frequent in nature would be unlikely to give rise to any inference of an improper purpose or corrupt intent.
- However, it is not appropriate, and thus not recommended, to invite public officials for meals at restaurants that are not frequented by ordinary businessmen or, after a review of the facts and circumstances, to a restaurant that is considered extravagant in light of the public official’s ordinary practices.
- In general, inexpensive gifts such as calendars, pens, notebooks, cigarette lighters and samples of the company’s products bearing the company’s logos are not typically regarded as prohibited under the anti-bribery provisions, especially when given on occasions such as the New Year or Bayram.
- The foregoing limits apply to both public and private officials. It should be highlighted that the Prime Ministerial Decree No. 1883 of 1993 sets out the conditions for any governmental agency to receive any gifts, grants or donations. Such conditions provide that any such entity must obtain the approval of the relevant Minister before accepting any in-kind or monetary gift from foreign or international entities that has a value of more than EGP10,000 up to EGP150,000. If such a gift’s value exceeds EGP150,000, then the approval of the Prime Minister must be obtained.
- Kindly note also that if such business courtesy is unrelated to the business of the governmental agency, then its nature might raise suspicion.
- Based on the foregoing, if any of the gifts is to fall within the above scope, then the governmental agency must obtain approval.