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Corruption offence stands even the act of bribery is not carried out

Trades / Industries:

Matthew, a freight manager of an airfreight company, was responsible for handling freight reservation by forwarding companies. He became closely acquainted with Bobby, the proprietor of a forwarding company. Bobby often treated Matthew dinners at luxurious restaurants and they sometimes spent weekends together playing golf. Because of their close relationship, Bobby was confident that he would always be guaranteed sufficient cargo space with Matthew’s support.


About a month before Christmas holidays, Bobby invited Matthew to a golf trip and paid for all the expenses in order to sweeten Matthew up. Bobby casually mentioned that he had received a lot of forwarding orders to transport goods to Europe. He expected Matthew’s ‘usual’ support over the allocation of sufficient cargo space. Bobby also implied that he would not take Matthew’s assistance for granted and would properly reciprocate Matthew with a 5% of the freight charges.


Soon after the golf trip, there was a labour strike in some airports in Europe and Matthew’s boss took charge of the company’s contingency plan on cargo allocation. Matthew eventually failed to assist Bobby.

Case Analysis

Rebates are considered advantages under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO). Matthew might have breached Section 9 of the POBO since he had accepted the advantages (i.e. free golf trip and the 5% freight charges from Bobby) without obtaining consent from his principal, as an inducement for reserving extra cargo space to Bobby. Bobby might also breach the POBO as the offeror of the bribe.


Despite the fact that Matthew was unable to allocate the cargo space to Bobby eventually, the corruption offence was still pursuable under the law. Under Section 11 of the POBO, the offeror and the acceptor of a bribe will commit an offence irrespective of whether or not the act of bribery has actually been carried out.


Although “entertainment” is not an “advantage” under the POBO, it may be used as a “sweetener” in a corruption deal. Therefore, Matthew should have observed the company’s code of conduct in accepting entertainment from business clients. He shouldalso turn down invitations to meals or entertainment that are excessive in nature or frequency, so as to avoid conflict of interest or loss of objectivity when conducting official duties.

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