Anyone who tries to secure advantages over competitors through gifts is punished with a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine – this is regulated in Section 299 of the Criminal Code (StGB). The same applies to those who allow themselves to be bribed: by accepting gifts and in return promising or granting benefits to the giver.
So before you shop around for gift by age, consider the person you are giving it to as there’s a thin line between gifts and bribery.
Difference Between Gifts and Bribery
“There is great concern in companies that they are doing something wrong,” says Hildegard Reppelmund, syndicate lawyer and head of the department for competition law, antitrust law and white-collar crime at the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). “Because of legal uncertainty, nothing is often given away or employees are prohibited from accepting anything,” says Reppelmund. But that is an exaggeration.
Which gifts are socially appropriate?
Why are companies so unsettled? It is probably due to the fact that nowhere is there a legal regulation where the value line between nice gesture and attempted corruption lies, Reppelmund suspects. “It always depends on the overall picture: how much is the gift worth, what kind of position do the recipient or the giver have?”
An example: A bottle of champagne worth 50 euros to a simple employee with a monthly income of 2000 euros can already be seen as an influence. However, a gift worth 500 euros to a Dax board member could still be safe. “The more socially appropriate a gift is, the more likely it is legally acceptable,” said the lawyer.
Gifts are particularly problematic when the recipient in a company decides how to buy goods or services, such as a purchaser, or when he has a major influence on such decisions. The same applies when concrete orders are pending. Because behind the entire criminal law regulation is the idea of protecting fair competition.
What applies to gifts to public officials?
“Officials are hardly allowed to accept anything,” says Hildegard Reppelmund. The assumption of advantage for civil servants and employees of public administration is regulated in paragraph 331 of the Criminal Code. If anything, they can only accept gifts if their employer has given them permission to do so. “As a rule, you should completely do without gifts for public officials,” advises the lawyer.gifts and bribery