There are ten specific influence peddling 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 “influence seeker” (i.e., active influence peddling) or where the offender is the “influence peddler” (i.e., passive influence peddling). These two categories take on the following framework:

  • “Active influence peddling” (trafic d’influence actif) is defined as the act of the influence seeker (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 influence peddler or that of a third party, related to either future or past abuse by the influence peddler of his real or alleged influence, in order to obtain a favorable decision from a third party; and
  • “Passive influence peddling” (trafic d’influence passif) is defined as the act of the influence peddler, 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 influence seeker, related to either future or past abuse of the peddler’s real or alleged influence, in order to obtain a favorable decision from a third party.
Although active and passive influence peddling are autonomous from corruption offenses, they too are broadly defined. The mere fact of knowingly offering or accepting an undue advantage is punishable as influence peddling regardless of whether any subsequent act is performed or whether the alleged “influence” actually exists.
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