Criminal Law on Corruption

Criminal defense of defendants, corporate defense and corporate representation in allegations of criminal corruption law is our core competence.

Our attorneys can demonstrate in partdecades of practice in numerous investigations or criminal proceedings in the area of criminal corruption law for bribery, granting of advantages, etc.. We are particularly frequently active as criminal defense counsel for defendants or in the corporate defense or as corporate representatives of affected companies in criminal proceedings. In addition, we have proven experience in corruption prevention and compliance consulting for companies and also act as external compliance representatives for selected companies.

Corruption, Bribery, Granting of Advantages: Significance

Especially in the media, the buzzwords "corruption" or "bribery" are used almost daily. However, these terms are often used only as a "headline" or as a (non-legal) generalization. On closer inspection, however, some of the things that are referred to as "corruption" or "bribery," especially in the media, are not criminal offenses in the sense of the corruption offenses or the German Criminal Code (StGB). In this respect, criminal conduct must be strictly distinguished from the social buzzword. In any case, "corruption" is booming: Almost every day, the media report on corresponding accusations, criminal proceedings and searches.

Corruption Offenses in the Criminal Code (StGB)

The Criminal Code recognizes various forms of corruption offenses.

As official offenses, i.e. when there are points of contact with authorities or the public sector, the acceptance of an advantage (Section 331 of the Criminal Code), corruptibility (Section 332 of the Criminal Code) and foreign corruptibility (Section 335a of the Criminal Code) are punishable. They are intended to protect the public's trust in the integrity of the public service. Mirroring the offenses, anyone who grants an advantage (Section 331 StGB) or bribes a public official (Section 334 StGB) is also punished.

Since bribery and corruptibility are also commonplace in the economy, the StGB also protects the freedom of competition. Agreements restricting competition in tenders, for example, in public tenders (Section 298 StGB) are prohibited, as is bribery and corruptibility in commercial transactions (Section 299 StGB).

Apart from that, the bribery and corruptibility of elected officials, the so-called bribery of members of parliament is also punishable (§ 108e StGB). In the press, this is sometimes also referred to - not entirely accurately - as bribery of politicians. Among other things Bundestag delegates, Landtagsabgeordnete, in addition, for example also delegates of local people's representations can be bribed as for instance the local representation and/or city councillor assembly. It is a criminal offense to demand, promise, accept, offer, promise or grant unjustified advantages with regard to the exercise of a mandate. In practice, accusations of bribery of members of parliament are particularly relevant if a company wishes to implement a project in the territory of the local authority (for example, a city or municipality) and in doing so seeks proximity to individual members of parliament.

Practical cases

As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we know: The range of corruption offenses in practice is enormous. The reason for this is that public prosecutors and police can relatively easily assume a corresponding initial suspicion and initiate appropriate investigations. Particularly frequent in practice are e.g. Allegations of corruption in connection with foreign business transactions (bribery abroad, Section 335 a StGB) or at the level of local authorities, in the case of support in the election campaigns of mayors, in connection with donations and sponsoring, unauthorized marketing, in the case of invitations to or acceptance of invitations to travel, events and hospitality, in the case of excessive fees for lectures, in the case of kick-backs to decision-makers (for example in official procurement), in the health sector or in the case of influencing competition (Section 299 StGB).

Risk often difficult to identify for those involved

The criminal offenses in the criminal law on corruption are only a few sentences long. Criminal corruption law is therefore "judge-made law" more than almost any other area of law, which means that criminal corruption cases are characterized by a number of - sometimes contradictory - court rulings that is almost impossible to keep track of. This applies, for example, to the question of who is a public official in the criminal law sense; the case law on this is so confusing and extensive that it is often impossible for legal laypersons and even lawyers who do not specialize in criminal corruption law to make a correct assessment.

The attorneys of H2W are specialists in criminal law and have the necessary expertise and proven experience as criminal defense attorneys in relevant criminal proceedings due to allegations of corruption, be it before a trial, in the preliminary proceedings, in court in public main hearing itself or afterwards. Moreover, for years we have not only been involved in corporate defense or corporate representation in corruption proceedings, but also advise companies on corruption allegations with regard to all relevant issues here as well as on the subject matter in detail.

Significant risks for companies and defendants in criminal corruption cases

Especially in criminal corruption cases, there are quite considerable risks for defendants and affected companies, which may well become existentially destructive. The Criminal Code provides for substantial, i.e. long-term, prison sentences. For the public official concerned, there is the threat of non-criminal law side effects such as disciplinary consequences, in the worst case up to removal from civil service. The accused and the company concerned are threatened with, among other things, confiscation and skimming off of considerable assets or (additionally) the imposition of substantial fines (also in the amount of millions of euros) according to the Ordnungswidrigkeitengesetz (OWiG) in the form of, for example, §§ 30, 130 OWiG) or the Verbandssanktionengesetz.

Rely on our decades of experience in criminal corruption cases as specialized defense attorneys and specialist attorneys for criminal law.