There are twelve specific corruption offenses in the French Criminal Code. In practice, however, they are closely connected to one another and can be divided into two subcategories: where the offender is the “corruptor” (bribe-giver) (i.e., active corruption) and where the offender is the “corruptee” (bribe-taker) (i.e., passive corruption):

  • “Active corruption” (corruption active) is defined as (i) the act of a corruptor (which can be an individual or a legal entity) knowingly making or tendering, at any time, directly or indirectly, and without underlying right, any offer, promise, donation, gift, present, reward, or any other advantage for the benefit of the corruptee or of a third party, in order to obtain from the corruptee the performance, delay in the performance, or non-performance of any act pertaining to the corruptee’s position or facilitated by his position, or (ii) the act of the corruptor yielding to such solicitations from the corruptee; and
  • “Passive corruption” (corruption passive) is defined as the act of a corruptee, at any time and directly or indirectly, knowingly (i) requesting or (ii) accepting, without underlying right, any offer, promise, donation, gift, present, reward, or any other advantage for his own benefit or that of a third party, from the corruptor to perform, delay the performance of, or not perform any act pertaining to his position or facilitated by his position.

These offenses are broadly defined and, notably, the mere attempt to corrupt, even if unsuccessful, is punishable as active corruption, and the mere attempt to obtain an undue advantage, even if unsuccessful, is punishable as passive corruption.

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