Corruption of Public Officials in Germany
The provisions of Sections 331 to 335a StGB regulate official offences are subdivided into acceptance of advantage, bribery, granting of advantage and bribery. According to § 331, para. 1 StGB, a public official or a person with a special public service obligation is punished if they demand, allows themselves to be promised or accepts an advantage for themselves or a third party in the performance of their official duties (acceptance of an advantage). In a mirror image of this, the granting of an advantage is punishable under Section 333 StGB. According to this, anyone who offers, promises or grants an advantage to a public official, a person with a special obligation for public service or a soldier of the German Armed Forces for performing their duties or for a third party is punished.
Sections 332 and 334 StGB criminalise bribery and corruption. The difference between accepting or granting an advantage lies in the legality of the underlying official act or omission. Whereas in the case of accepting or granting an advantage, the advantage is related to a lawful official act, bribery and corruption related to a breach of official duties.
Acceptance of an advantage and bribery can only be committed by public officials or persons with a special duty for the service and judges or arbitrators (receiving side). Granting of advantages and bribery can be committed by any person (donor side).
The term “public official” is defined in Section 11, paragraph 1, no. 2 StGB. According to this, a person is a public official if they are a civil servant or a judge under German law or have another official relationship under public law. A person is considered a public official if they are appointed in any other way to perform public administrative duties for a public authority or other body or on their behalf. In this sense, for example, editors of public broadcasting corporations are also considered public officials (BGHSt 54, 202 ff.).
It must be considered that the request or offer of advantages is sufficient for the realisation of the offences mentioned. It is not required that the advantage is actually granted. Proof of a specific official act in return is also no longer required.