Two judicial agencies in China, the Supreme People's Court
and the Supreme Procuratorate, jointly issued a judicial
interpretation in April 2016, clarifying some of the anti-bribery
provisions in China's Criminal Law. The judicial interpretation
follows the amendments to the anti-bribery provisions on which we
October 2015. The judicial interpretation provides guidance in
understanding last year's amendments. The amendments to the
Criminal Law, the judicial interpretation and the proposed
amendments to the commercial bribery provisions in the Anti-Unfair
Competition Law, which we reported on in our previous
In context edition, show that the crackdown on corruption is
still at the top of the political agenda in China. We recommend
that companies active in China continue giving priority to internal
The recently issued judicial interpretation clarifies a number
of concepts in the anti-bribery provisions in China's Criminal
Definition of bribe includes intangible benefits
China's Criminal Law prohibits giving money and property in
exchange for improper benefits. The judicial interpretation
provides that "money and property" includes intangible
benefits, that is, benefits that you normally have to pay for.
These may include different kinds of services provided for free or
at a discount.
Payment after receiving benefits is also bribery
The judicial interpretation clarifies that providing money or
property to a government official after receiving the improper
benefits also qualifies as bribery. This clarification follows
previous misunderstandings that "thanking" an official
after having received the benefit would be acceptable since the
official was not induced to provide the benefit. A corrupt intent
behind a payment or a gift of a property is, however, sufficient to
constitute bribery. This is in line with the proposed amendments to
the commercial bribery provisions in the Anti-Unfair Competition
Increased thresholds for prosecution
The monetary threshold for prosecution of bribery of a
government official has been raised. Previously, a bribe with a
value of RMB 5,000 was subject to prosecution, whereas now the
bribe should have a value of at least RMB 30,000, subject to
certain exceptions. The monetary threshold for prosecution of
bribery not involving a governmental official has been set at RMB
The increased thresholds are not meant to signal that smaller
bribes are acceptable. The thresholds were increased to take into
account inflation, because the previous thresholds were set almost
twenty years ago.
The judicial interpretation imposes higher penalties on both
bribers and recipients. The highest penalty is life imprisonment or
the death penalty, plus monetary penalties. In addition to the
confiscation of illegal gains, a serious offence may lead to
confiscation of personal assets or substantial fines ranging from
RMB 100,000 to two times the illegal gains.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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