Article 322-bis of the Criminal Code extends the application of domestic bribery offenses to bribery relating to public officials of foreign states and of international organizations (such as the UN, the OECD and the European Council) and to persons in charge of a foreign public service.

With respect to the definition of foreign public officials, Italian law makes express reference to the persons who, within these states and organizations, “perform functions or activities equivalent to those of public officials and of persons in charge of a public service”. In other words, Italian criminal law extends to them the same definitions applicable to domestic public officials.

In particular, pursuant to Article 322-bis of the Criminal Code, the individuals below are considered public officials if they perform functions corresponding to those performed by domestic public officials or persons in charge of public services in all the other cases:

  • Members of the European Commission, of the European Parliament, of the European Court of Justice and of the European Court of Auditors;
  • Officials and agents hired by contract pursuant to the Staff Regulations of European Officials or to the Conditions of Employment regarding European agents;
  • Persons delegated by the member states or by any public or private entity at the European Union, who perform functions equivalent to those performed by officials and agents of the European Union;
  • Members and employees of entities formed pursuant to the Treaties establishing the European Union;
  • Those who, in the context of the other member states of the European Union, perform functions or activities equivalent to those performed by Italian public officials and persons in charge of a public service;
  • Judges, prosecutors, deputy prosecutors, officials and agents of the International Criminal Court, the persons delegated by the States Parties to the Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court who perform functions equivalent to those performed by the officers or agents of the Court itself, and members and employees of entities instituted pursuant to the Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court;
  • Persons who perform functions or activities equivalent to those of public officials and of persons in charge of a public service within public international organizations;
  • Members of International Parliamentary Assemblies of an international or supranational organization and judges and officials of international courts;
  • Persons who perform functions or activities equivalent to those of public officials and of persons in charge of a public service in non-EU states, when the act harms the financial interests of the Union.

Italian law also criminalizes the bribery of non-EU foreign public officials, that is, public officials not working in EU institutions or bodies, or not performing a public function in an EU member state. However, with respect to non-EU foreign public officials, only active bribery is punished. Therefore, the non-EU foreign public official is not punished under Italian law.

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