Bribery, constituting a white-collar crime, is internationally known as a crime of influence, defined in its simplest form as influencing the actions of officials or others in return for any item of value. It is one of the most challenging crimes with which the international community is attempting to grapple, as it directly reflects the presence of inherent corruption, contravenes the principles upholding the judicial system and thus, affects state development.
In Egypt, bribery is defined by the Penal Code as any public officer who requests, accepts or takes, either for himself or for others, a promise or a gift in consideration of performing his duties. Bribery is an extremely serious crime, which is sanctionable by life imprisonment, in addition to a fine that may reach the value of the promise or gift.
In addition to the broad definition of bribery under Egyptian Law, the Egyptian Legislator expanded the crime by adding more acts, such as a public officer who commits the act without being competent in the duties, but alleged to be competent or wrongly assumed competency. Moreover, the act is punishable by law, even if the public officer was not aiming to perform his duties at the time of requesting, accepting or taking the interest. If the consideration of said interest is to omit the public officer’s duties or to act contrary to them, the fine by which the crime is punishable shall be doubled.
Furthermore, the act of a public officer accepting a reward for a duty or action undertaken without any prior agreement, as well as the act of a public officer performing his duties due to or as a result of external influence or recommendation, are both punishable by law through imprisonment and a fine.
Alternative forms of bribery in relation to Board Members and managers of joint-stock companies or associations have been added to the bribery section of the Penal Code and are punishable by imprisonment of up to seven (7) years, in addition to a fine that may reach the value of the promise or gift.
The Egyptian Legislator criminalized all such acts and specified harsh sanctions due to the severity of bribery; the aforementioned sanctions are applied against the bribe offeror, offeree and mediator. Nevertheless, Egyptian Law stipulates the exemption of the bribe offeror and mediator, in the event of informing the competent authorities, or in the case of confession.
This exemption from punishment, although subject to many conditions, is heavily criticized for contradicting the nature, effects and philosophy of the criminalization of bribery. While supporters believe that this exemption presents a great advantage by facilitating proof of bribery crimes, those who oppose argue that the exemption in itself is not a means of facilitating proof of such crimes, but rather enables commission of the crime, as a bribe offeror may misuse the exemption as a form of immunity.