Bribery is where a benefit is offered, given, requested, or accepted with the intention of inducing a person to perform a function improperly, or being a reward for performing a function improperly.

The “benefit” can be anything of value, such as a cash payment, a gift, hospitality, payment of school fees, a donation to a political party, payment for a holiday, or the promise of employment.

“Acting improperly” means acting improperly in the exercise of your duties.  So, a procurement manager, who has a duty to award contracts based on objective criteria to the best evaluated bidder, would be acting improperly if she/he offered the contract to the bidder which offered the most valuable personal benefit to her/him.

The act of offering or requesting the bribe is normally sufficient to constitute the bribery offence.  It is not necessary for the bribe transaction to be completed or to have a successful outcome for the offence to have been committed.


  • A project developer, who wishes to build a factory in an area designated as an agricultural zone, offers a government official an expensive watch with the intention that it will encourage the official to grant planning permission for the factory.
  • A sales manager of Organisation A offers the procurement manager of Organisation B a three-day all expenses paid holiday in return for the procurement manager ensuring that Organisation B awards a contract to Organisation A rather than to the most suitable candidate.
  • The contractor’s site manager requests that a sub-contractor working on a construction project makes a cash payment to him in return for him approving inflated payment claims and defective work by the sub-contractor.

How are bribes paid

Sometimes the bribe may be given directly from the giver to the receiver.  But, in many cases, steps may be taken to conceal the bribe through what appears to be a valid transaction with a third party.  For example, an organisation may agree to pay a success fee to an agent if the organisation wins a contract.  This may appear to be a legitimate fee. However, the hidden arrangement may be that the agent will use part of the success fee to pay a bribe to a government official who improperly ensures that the contract is awarded to the organisation. The success fee is, therefore, being used as an indirect mechanism to pay a secret bribe.

Bribes may also be concealed in the contract prices of joint venture partners, sub-contractors or suppliers, and may be paid by those organisations.

Avoiding bribery

Do not, directly or indirectly, offer, give, request or accept any benefit with the intention that the benefit will induce someone to perform a function improperly, or be a reward for performing a function improperly.

If you know or suspect that an activity involves a bribe, then avoid or withdraw from the activity and do not assist it in any way. 

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1st April 2024