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Macau: Countering external trade corruption

Pedro CortésMarta Mourão Teixeira
The Legislative Assembly of Macau is debating the proposal of a law on the prevention and repression of corruption in the context of external trade.

The UN Convention Against Corruption, adopted on October 31 2003 in New York and ratified by the People's Republic of China (PRC) on January 13 2006 establishes, in its 16th article, that each State Party should adopt legislative and other measures to discipline acts of corruption by foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations, whether undertaken actively or passively.

The purpose of the draft law is to define which corruption acts in external trade are subject to punishment, which prevention measures are available and how the assignment of responsibilities to the Commission Against Corruption of Macau SAR will work.

According to the Draft Law, it will be a criminal offence for a person to give or promise a foreign public official or an official of a public international organisation an undue advantage (pecuniary or not) in order that the official acts or refrains from carrying out their official duties, with the purpose of obtaining or retaining business or other undue advantage in the conduct of external trade.

The agent of this crime will be subject to a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment.

Taking into account that the definition of foreign public official and official of a public international organisation includes any person that serves a country or territory outside of the Macau SAR, such officials will also include those from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The draft law also provides for the criminal liability of the legal persons, including unduly incorporated companies, if the crime is committed on their behalf and in the collective interest. The main penalties for these entities include a fine and judicial dissolution.

The legal person will not be liable if the agent has acted against the orders or instructions of the person in charge.

According to the schedule set out by the UN, the PRC – including the two special administrative regions, to which the Convention Against Corruption also applies – will be subject to evaluation by UN specialists between 2013 and 2014, to assess the fulfillment of the duties provided for in the UN Convention.

Pedro Cortés and Marta Mourão Teixeira

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