Bribery Legislation in New Zealand

The following is a list of relevant legislation in New Zealand regarding bribery:

Crimes Act 1961

  1. The legislative provisions relating to bribery are found in the Crimes Act 1961 ("the Act"). A bribe, in the context of the Act, means "any money, valuable consideration, office, employment, or any other benefit, whether direct or indirect".

  2. The issue of main concern to the Export Credit Office ("NZECO") is bribery of foreign officials. The following provisions are relevant in this regard:
    1. Section 105C:  It is an offence to bribe a person with intent to influence a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or to gain an improper advantage. The maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment and/or a fine not exceeding the greater of $5 million, or 3 times the value of commercial gain.

      A person will not be liable where the benefit supplied is small and only designed to expedite the carrying out of a “routine government action”. A routine government action does not include a decision about whether to award new business, to continue existing business, or the terms of the new or existing business. Nor does it include any action that is outside the scope of the official's ordinary duties; or any action that provides undue material benefit to a person who makes a payment, or an undue material disadvantage to any other person.

      Corporations can be criminally liable section 105C.  The section expressly makes a corporate entity liable for the acts of any employee, agent, director or officer acting within the scope of their authority. There will be no offence for a corporate entity where all reasonable steps have been taken to prevent the commission of the offence.

    2. Section 105D: This section provides that it is an offence for a New Zealand citizen or company to do any act overseas that would, if done in New Zealand, constitute an offence under section 105C.

    3. Section 105E: This section makes it an offence for people to arrange or facilitate the bribery of foreign public officials and also extends to the person actually accepting the bribe. A foreign public official will only be liable under section 105E when the offence is committed in NZ.  A NZ citizen, resident or a corporation incorporated in NZ will be liable for offences committed outside NZ.

    4. Section 105F: This section makes it an offence to “trade in influence”. It is an offence to give, receive or offer bribes with intent to influence the way an official performs, or omits to perform, an act. The offence includes attempts to influence where the official is not in fact influenced. It is immaterial whether the act or omission is actually within the scope of the official’s authority.

Secret Commissions Act 1910

  1. Under the Secret Commissions Act 1910 it is an offence (in general terms) to:
    1. "corruptly" give a gift to an agent (and for an agent to accept such a gift) without the consent of the principal where the gift (or other consideration) is an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do something in relation to the principal's affairs or business;

    2. fail to disclose (as an agent) to the agent's principal a pecuniary interest in a contract;

    3. give an agent a false receipt or invoice (or for an agent to deliver a receipt or invoice he or she knows is false to his or her principal); and

    4. advise any person to enter into a contract with a third person and receive or agree to receive, without the person's knowledge, a gift or consideration from that third person as an inducement or reward.
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