Gifts and hospitality

Gifts and hospitality in business dealings can be actual or perceived bribes. 

If a gift or hospitality is genuinely given and received without any intention by the parties that it will influence the recipient to act improperly, or be a reward for acting improperly, then the gift or hospitality will not be a bribe.  However, if the intention of the giver or receiver is that the gift or hospitality will influence the receiver to act improperly, or will be a reward for acting improperly, then it will be a bribe.

In business dealings, there is a risk that, even if givers and receivers of gifts or hospitality are not intending to act corruptly, a third party (such as the media, a prosecutor, or a judge) may perceive the gift or hospitality to be corrupt because they can see no other plausible reason for the gift or hospitality.   The likelihood of a gift or hospitality being perceived to be corrupt depends on a combination of factors, such as the value of the gift or hospitality and the circumstances in which it is given.


  • A business lunch at a reasonably priced restaurant between members of Organisation A and Organisation B and paid for by Organisation A, and where none of the parties has a decision-making function over the other parties, is unlikely to be seen as corrupt as the nature of the hospitality is not significant and there are no decisions which could be influenced by the hospitality. However, if the restaurant is an expensive restaurant and Organisation B has a decision-making function in relation to Organisation A, then the lunch may be perceived to be an attempt to bribe the members of Organisation B.
  • A low value memento branded with the organisation’s logo, and with no resale value, is unlikely to be perceived as a bribe.
  • A gift by a bidding contractor of an expensive watch to a public official who has a decision-making function in relation to the bid is likely to be perceived as a bribe.

Avoiding corrupt gifts and hospitality

Some countries laws’ prohibit their public officials from receiving gifts or hospitality.  Many organisations place limits on the value of gifts and hospitality which may be given or received.

Doubts about any perception of corruption in relation to business hospitality and entertainment can be avoided by each organisation paying for its own personnel.

Always be very cautious in giving or accepting gifts or hospitality to or from someone with whom you are, or have been, or may be, in a business relationship.  Before doing so, ensure that the gift or hospitality is not, and could not reasonably be perceived to be, intended either to influence the recipient to act improperly or to be a reward for acting improperly.  If in doubt, do not offer or accept the gift or hospitality.

                            7 of 22

1st April 2024