what is Bribery NSWAustralian law handles bribery charges seriously and imposes heavy penalties on those guilty. Bribery undermines business functions in Australia and has negative, lasting implications for many.  The main law that governs bribery in Australia is the Criminal Code Act 1995.

What is a bribe? 

A bribe is a benefit or offer that is given to someone to influence them to do, or not do, a certain action. The benefit can include anything of value. For example, a bribe might be in the form of: 

  • a gift, 
  • direct payment, 
  • a favour, or 
  • another type of reward. 

For a bribe to occur, there must be an offer given that is known to two people, which is capable of also being refused. Furthermore, a key factor of bribery is the intention to corruptly influence another’s conduct. Additionally, it is still an offence if the bribe is only offered, even if it is rejected. 

To receive commissions is also an offence if you corruptly receive, solicit, or offer a benefit as an inducement to do or not do something. Additionally, if you receive or offer an  with the intention to act differently to someone, this is also a bribe.  

Bribes are often given to public officials, private individuals with influence, or businesses.

Bribery for business advantage

In many cases, a bribe involves offering a benefit to another so they grant a business advantage. For example, a property developer might bribe a politician so that they win a development project. In these cases, it is usually a financial payment. 

However, a bribe is usually given to someone in the hopes that they will disregard their duty. In the above scenario, a public official should not be giving a business and financial advantage to a company as a result of a bribe. Not only is it unfair to other companies, it is harmful to the public because they have tampered with the best decision for the community. 

Bribing a Public Official 

The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) lists bribery as an offence. In NSW, it carries a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment.

Domestic Bribery 

Section 141 of the Criminal Code states that it is illegal to corruptly provide, offer, or give a benefit to another to influence a public official in the exercise of their official duties. 

The Australian Commonwealth legislation states that you have bribed a foreign official if: 

  • You give a benefit to someone, or promise to give one, and
  • That incentive is not legitimately due to that person; and
  • You gave the benefit to a foreign public official with the intention to obtain or keep a business advantage. 

Bribery of a foreign official is a serious crime in Australia. Therefore, if found guilty, you can receive a hefty fine or go to prison. 

Penalties for bribery in Australia 

The penalties imposed are severe in Australia for bribery offences. However, the specific penalty will also depend on the type of bribery offence. 

Bribing Foreign Public Officials

If you bribe a foreign public official, you can face up to 10 years of imprisonment, substantial fines, or both. However, the courts can also give stricter fines to corporations. In some cases, companies have received fines reaching millions of dollars.

Bribing State Public Officials

For bribes involving state public officials, the penalties vary from state to state. However, like the others they usually involve hefty fines and imprisonment. 

Bribing Commonwealth Public Officials

Similarly, bribing Commonwealth public officials also carries a potential maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine, or both. 

Private Sector

Notably, bribery within the private sector is a little different. It is not covered under federal legislation. However, this type of bribery comes under state law, usually related to fraud or corruption charges. Yet, like the other forms, bribery in the private sector is also punishable via fines and/or imprisonment.

Our Bribery Lawyers can help you

Are you facing bribery charges? 

Our experienced lawyers have years of experience in this area of law. Get in touch with us today. Call O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors on (02) 9261 4281 to set up a free appointment with an experienced Sydney bribery lawyer.

1. Full-service criminal defence firm 

O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors is a full-service criminal defence law firm. We provide legal advice on both criminal and civil law. After your criminal case, we can also represent you in your civil matter. For example, for unlawful arrest and false imprisonment, or suing a publisher for defamation. 

2. Competitive costs 

Your first consultation with one of our criminal lawyers is free. This is your opportunity to speak to us about your case. We can discuss with you what your options are. If you choose our services, we will provide you with a cost agreement. O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors provides cost-effective and professional legal advice.

In some instances, we offer reduced fees or pro bono services. This is at the discretion of our Principal Lawyer. We can also assist you in applying for Legal Aid. Speak to us if you have concerns regarding your ability to pay your legal fees. 

3. Experienced  team of lawyers

Our criminal lawyers have also handled cases in courts across NSW at Local Courts, District Courts and the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal. With a wealth of experience in assisting clients with bail applications, trials, sentencing hearings, and appeals.  

Criminal Law Accredited Specialist Lawyers                                 

Our team includes Accredited Specialists in Criminal Law.

4. Our trauma-informed approach to legal practise 

O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors utilises a trauma-informed lawyering approach when interacting with our clients. We understand that you might have dealt with traumatic events. Therefore, engaging with authorities and courts is stressful. For this reason, we are sensitive to your mental and also emotional needs. Read more about our thoughts on trauma-informed lawyering


O’Brien Criminal & Civil Solicitors
p: 02 9261 4281
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Sydney NSW 2000

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