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Bribery is a morally reprehensible behavior to provide certain services for advantages. Colloquially, it is understood to mean corruption .

In addition to bribery and the granting of advantages, the corruptibility of people who take part in business and legal transactions endangers trust in the independent activity of authorities and companies in competition. In this respect, these acts are punishable under white- collar crime law.

Criminal liability in Germany


The German penal code does not recognize a uniform offense of bribery. Instead, bribery is covered over several facts.

Official offense

As a typical official offense , corruption is regulated in German criminal law in Section 332 of the Criminal Code. The offense includes

  • a public official (judge, civil servant, employee in the public service, etc.), a person who is particularly responsible for the public service or a soldier in the armed forces
  • in return for having performed an official act (with which the public official violates his official duties) or will do so in the future,
  • requests or has an advantage granted for this person or a third party .

The improper official act can be in the past, present or future. If the official act, for which the public official demands a consideration, allows himself to be promised or accepted, is not in breach of duty, then there is only an acceptance of benefits .

The term “public official” is defined in Section 11 (1) No. 2 StGB . According to this, an official does not necessarily have to be an official. In addition to employees, these can also be council members under certain circumstances. In 2006 , the Federal Court of Justice decided in two proceedings that although council members are generally not public officials, in individual cases they can be assumed to be officials when performing specific administrative tasks (for example in the administrative committee ) (cf. BGH 3 StR 389/05 and BGH 5 StR 453 / 05). Due to the different nature of council and member mandates, this does not apply to members of the Bundestag and Landtag .

Suitable perpetrators are also European public officials (officials of the European Union ) as well as those who are particularly responsible for the public service within the meaning of Section 11, Paragraph 1, No. 2a, No. 4 of the Criminal Code (for foreign and international employees, see Section 335a of the Criminal Code).

A protected legal interest is trust in the administration and the judiciary as independent entities. In particular, the breach of the prohibition of arbitrariness in Art. 3 GG is punished by the offense.


Bribery is punished with imprisonment of six months to five years, in less severe cases with a fine or imprisonment for up to three years, in particularly serious cases (Section 335 of the Criminal Code) from one year to ten years.

If a judge (or judge of an arbitration tribunal) is bribable, the threat of punishment is that of a crime : imprisonment from one year to ten years, in less serious cases from six months to five years, in particularly serious cases from two years to fifteen Years.

Economic offense

Bribery and bribery in business dealings in accordance with Section 299 of the German Criminal Code are similar to the factual structure of bribery in office . However, equal opportunities in competition ( indirect third-party effect of Art. 3 GG) and trust in business dealings are protected here . The perpetrator of the offense is not a public official, but an employee (employee or agent) of a business enterprise. The act can also be committed with such a person in order to achieve unfair preferential treatment in the case of an advertisement or the like. Transnational competition has also been protected since 2002.

As a witness

As a witness in court proceedings, taking bribes is not itself a criminal offense (but bribery, as an inducement to make false statements ). However, if a witness says wrong, this is a statement offense , the imprisonment for up to 15 years (in the case of perjury is punishable).

Web links

Wiktionary: Bribery  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations