Prevention of Bribery Ordinance

    Hong Kong

    Prevention of Bribery Ordinance

    The Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (‘POBO’) is the primary legislation in Hong Kong for anti-corruption, it targets both public and private forms of bribery. The POBO is enforced by theIndependent Commission Against Corruption (‘ICAC’). 

    Last Updated: July 30, 2019


  • The POBO provides that for the private sector:  

    • no agent shall solicit or accept any advantage without the permission of their principal when conducting their principal’s affairs or business; the offeror of the advantage is also guilty of an offence; 
    • ‘advantage includes money, gifts, loans, commissions, offices, contracts, services, favours and discharge of liability in whole or in part, but does not include entertainment 
    • ‘entertainment means the provision of food or drink, for consumption on the occasion when it is provided, and of any other entertainment provided at the same time, for example singing and dancing; 
    • both offerors and recipients of bribes may be prosecuted under the POBO; 
    • the POBO imposes liability on a person‘ which can include corporate entities; 
    • prosecution against companies may occur where the company’s senior management was directly involved in the decision to employ corruption to benefit the company; 
    • there is no disclosure or reporting obligation on a person who is aware of corruption-related offences; and 
    • the POBO lacks extra-territoriality where the offer (also applied to solicitation and acceptance) does not take place in Hong Kong even though the planning of the offer might have taken place in Hong Kong (HKSAR v Lionel John Krieger and Another (06/08/2014, FAMC1/2014)).  

    Advantages garnered through third parties or intermediaries for both public and private sector bribes can expose the ultimate bribe giver to liability under the POBO. The ICAC has also issued enforcement actions against those organisations that outsource services and are in contravention of the POBO.  

    Sanctions 

    The maximum punishment applicable for a person guilty of a bribery offence could be up to a fine of HKN 500,000 (approx. € 56,960) and imprisonment for ten years. The court may also order the confiscation of any pecuniary resources or property, and limit or prohibit employment by a public body in a management capacity. 

    The ICAC has issued guidance on bribery. 

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