Bribery is not expressly defined under Taiwan statutes, but is still considered an offence as a benefit gained under illegal circumstances. A definition of bribery has been provided by the courts, and cases involving bribery can be punished under the Criminal Code and other laws such as the Banking Act and Securities Exchange Act. The penalties under the latter two acts are heavier than those provided in the Criminal Code, and are applied first.
Attempting to bribe, or the acceptance of a bribe by a public official, is a criminal offence and is punishable under the Organic Statute for Anti-Corruption Administration and/or the Criminal Code. A public official has been defined to mean persons who are:
- empowered with legal function and power, serve an organization of the state or a local autonomous body; and are engaged in public affairs in accordance with laws; or
- entrusted by an organ of the state or a local autonomous body to engage in public affairs within the authority of the entrusting organization.
Bribing a foreign official is also a crime. A person is guilty of a bribery offence if he or she pays or promises to pay a bribe, i.e., anything of value, to a foreign official in return for that official:
- performing or omitting to perform his or her official duties;
- making unlawful demands;
- promising or taking bribes; or
- engaging in other malpractices for unjust gains in trade, investment or other business activities.
The Agency Against Corruption (the “AAC”), constituted under the Organic Statute for Anti-Corruption Administration, has published a set of ethics guidelines for employees who fall within the scope of the Civil Servants Act – namely, civil servants, military personnel and employees of public enterprises such as public hospitals and public schools.
Both the Anti-Corruption Act and Criminal Code have extraterritorial reach. Officials who receive bribes within or outside Taiwan are subject to the Anti-Corruption Act. Taiwan has no jurisdiction over the bribing of local officials outside of Taiwan.
Bribery in the private sector is prohibited by sector-specific law. The main statutes are the Banking Act and Securities Exchange Act. The Banking Act prohibits responsible persons and staff members of a bank from accepting, under any pretense, commissions, rebates and the amount of other unwarranted benefits from depositors, borrowers or other customers. The Securities Exchange Act prohibits directors, supervisors and employees of stock exchanges from demanding, agreeing to accept, or accepting any improper benefit in connection with the performance of his or her duties.