The relationship between different offences

One corrupt action may often result in more than one criminal offence being committed.  For example:

  • Bribery normally involves a degree of fraud.  A bribe paid to win a contract will normally be concealed by fraudulent documentation which makes the contract appear to have been won on a genuine arms-length basis.
  • Fraud does not necessarily involve bribery.  However, many acts of fraud may need an act of bribery in order to complete the fraud.  For example, a project owner may wish fraudulently to withhold payment from a contractor and may bribe the project certifier to certify falsely that costs for rectification of defects are payable by the contractor, so as to justify the withholding.
  • Collusion, embezzlement and abuse of power will normally involve fraud, as false documentation will be drawn up, or false statements made, so as to conceal the true nature of the corrupt act.
  • Moving the proceeds of a corrupt act through the banking system will normally constitute money laundering.

In addition, corruption offences may also constitute breaches of tax and accounting laws and stock market regulations.  For example:

  • A bribe wrongly shown in an organisation’s accounts as an agency commission for legitimate services is likely to constitute a false accounting entry which would be in breach of accounting laws and stock market regulations.
  • An organisation treating the cost of a bribe as a deductible expense in calculating the amount of tax due is likely to be in breach of tax law.

Prosecutors may find it easier to prosecute under accounting or tax laws than bribery laws, as the standard of proof may be lower, and proof may be obtained by the mere fact of the erroneous entry.

Therefore, a wide range of people may be caught in both the initial offence (such as bribery or submission of fraudulent claims), which may involve project and commercial staff, and in subsequent offences, which may involve accounting and legal staff.

16 of 22

1st April 2024