Qatar

Reviewed April 2015
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PUBLIC OFFICIALS
    Is there an offence of bribing public officials?
    • Foreign public officials

      Although Qatar has ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (in 2007), it has not yet enacted any legislation criminalising the bribery of foreign public officials.

      Domestic public officials

      Bribing a domestic public official will constitute an offence under the Qatar Penal Code (Law No. 11 of 2004) (the Penal Code).

      Furthermore, although not considered in detail in this note, the following pieces of legislation contain anti-corruption measures:

      the Qatar Human Resources Law (Law No. 8 of 2009)
      the Tenders and Auctions Regulations (Law No. 26 of 2005), and
      the Emiri Decision constituting an authority for Administrative Control and Transparency (Decision No. 75 of 2011).

    What is the relevant test for each offence?
    • The Penal Code contains various bribery offences:

      The request or acceptance by a public officer, for himself or another party, money or any other benefit (including a promise) in return for an act or omission in connection with his duties (Article 140).

      The request or acceptance by a public officer, for himself or another party, money or any other benefit (including a promise) in return for an act or omission which, although not in connection with his duties, the public officer either believes in error that it is or induces the briber to believe that it is (Article 140).

      An offer of money or any other benefit (including a promise) to a public officer in return for an act or omission (whether or not the public officer accepts) (Articles 141 and 145).

      Acting as an intermediary between the person giving the bribe and the recipient (Article 141).

      An act or omission by a public officer where no bribe or offer of a bribe has taken place but where the public officer has undertaken such act or omission intending to obtain a reward and later does accept money or any other benefit from the person who benefitted from the act or omission (Article 142).

      The receipt of money or any other benefit by someone who:

      knows that it is intended to be a bribe, but where the relevant public officer has not appointed the individual and is unaware of his actions, or
      claims that the money or benefit will be used as a bribe for a public officer but who actually intends to keep all or part of it.(Article 143)

      The following points should be noted in relation to the above offences:

      A “public officer” is defined as:

      arbitrators, experts, receivers in bankruptcy, liquidators and sequestrators

      chairmen, directors, managers and other employees in any private associations and institutions, cooperative associations and companies, provided that a ministry, government department or agency, or any other public organisation owns any share thereof

      anybody carrying out an activity connected with public service and commissioned by a public employee, and

      members of municipal or legislative councils and anybody who has capacity as a public representative.

      Article 32 stipulates that intention does not have to be established unless explicitly required in relation to an offence. Accordingly, intention may not be required in order to commit any of the offences described above.

    Can corporates and individuals commit the offence?
    • Pursuant to Article 37, except for ministries, government departments and public organisations, corporate bodies can be held criminally liable for offences committed by representatives, managers and agents acting in the name of the company.

    Does the offence have extra-territorial effect?
    • Pursuant to Article 13, the Penal Code will apply to an offence:

      committed in Qatar, or

      committed elsewhere but where:

      one of the constituent parts of the offence was committed in Qatar
      the effects of the offence were in Qatar, or
      the effects were intended to be in Qatar.

      Pursuant to Article 18, the Penal Code will apply to any Qatari citizen who commits certain offences thereunder even if that offence is committed entirely outside of Qatar (and even if the offence renders the citizen liable under the laws of any other jurisdiction). This is likely to apply to the bribery offences described above.

    Are there any exceptions or defences?
    • The following specific defences are available:

      In relation to the offence of an individual offering money or any other benefit (including a promise) to a public officer (who accepts) in return for an act or omission, the person offering the bribe will escape any penalty if he informs the relevant authority about the offence or declares it before it is discovered.

      In relation to the offence by an intermediary involved in a bribe, he will escape any penalty if he informs the relevant authority about the offence or declares it before it is discovered.

      In addition, there are other defences which apply generally to the offences in the Penal Code (e.g. duress). In particular, a public servant will not be guilty of an offence if he was executing the order of his superior or where he believed in good faith that he was acting lawfully (Article 48).

    What are the penalties?
    • The following penalties apply to the various bribery offences under the Penal Code:

      For individuals

      Where a public officer requests or accepts a bribe in return for an act or omission (under Article 140):

      up to ten years’ imprisonment
      a fine equivalent to the benefit received or promised (minimum of QR 5,000)
      confiscation of the benefit, and
      dismissal from office.

      Where a public officer who requests or accepts, for himself or another party, money or any other benefit (including a promise) in return for an act or omission which, although not in connection with his duties, the public officer either believes in error that it is or induces the briber to believe that it is (Article 140):

      up to ten years’ imprisonment
      a fine equivalent to the benefit received or promised (minimum of QR 5,000)
      confiscation of the benefit, and
      dismissal from office.

      Where an individual who offers money or any other benefit (including a promise) to a public officer (who accepts) in return for an act or omission (Article 141):

      up to ten years’ imprisonment, and
      a fine equivalent to the benefit offered or given (minimum of QR 5,000).

      Where an individual who offers money or any other benefit (including a promise) to a public officer (who declines) in return for an act or omission (Article 145):

      up to five years’ imprisonment, and
      a fine of up to QR 15,000.

      Where an individual acts as intermediary in a bribe (Article 141):

      up to ten years’ imprisonment, and
      a fine equivalent to the bribe amount (minimum of QR 5,000).

      Where a public officer undertakes an act or omission and later receives money or any other benefit (Article 142):

      up to seven years’ imprisonment, and
      a fine of up to QR 15,000.

      Where an individual receives money knowing that it is intended to be a bribe or who induces receipt on the premise to use it as a bribe (Article 143):

      up to three years’ imprisonment, and
      a fine of up to QR 15,000.

      For corporate bodies

      In the event that a corporate body is found guilty of an offence, it will be fined (such fine capped at QR 500,000 if it is in addition to any other punishment against the corporate body).

      If a corporate body is guilty of any of the above offences, it would be liable to a fine (which will be capped at QR 500,000 if the corporate body is subject to any other punishment) (Article 37).

      Whilst this cap would appear to operate so as to avoid a corporate body becoming liable to duplicate financial penalties, where the same conduct is found to constitute more than one corporate offence, the legislation does not make the effect of these provisions explicit - as such, it is not clear how the Qatari courts would interpret and apply this for the relevant offences.

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    PRIVATE SECTOR
      Is there an offence for bribery within the private sector?
      • There is an offence for bribes occurring in the private sector under the Penal Code.

      What is the relevant test?
      • An offence will be committed where a private sector employee without the knowledge of his employer requests, for himself or for another person, money or any other benefit (including a promise) in return for undertaking an act or omission in his duties (Article 146).
      Can corporates and individuals commit the offence?
      • No. The definition of “employee” in the private sector offence is likely to be confined to an individual only.
      Does the offence have extra territorial effect?
      • Pursuant to Article 13, the Penal Code will apply to an offence:

        committed in Qatar, or

        committed elsewhere but where:

        one of the constituent parts of the offence was committed in Qatar
        the effects of the offence were in Qatar, or
        the effects were intended to be in Qatar.

        Pursuant to Article 18, the Penal Code will apply to any Qatari citizen who commits certain offences thereunder (including the bribery offences described above) even if that offence is committed entirely outside of Qatar (and even if the offence renders the citizen liable under the laws of any other jurisdiction).

      Are there any exceptions or defences?
      What are the penalties?
      • The penalty for the employee committing bribery is:

        up to three years’ imprisonment, and/or
        a fine of up to QR 15,000.

      This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.