The Criminal Code defines certain actions which are punishable as corruption-related crimes. These include actions such as embezzlement or abuse of power by government officials as well as collusion between private individuals and government officials in the form of bribery or bid-rigging to accrue illegal benefit. The Criminal Code has a broad territorial reach in terms of jurisdiction for corruption-related crimes. Turkey has also ratified international anti-corruption conventions such as The Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption of January 27, 1999, the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption of November 4, 1999, the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds of Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism of November 8, 1990, the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions of December 17, 1997, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime of November 15, 2000, and the United Nation Convention against Corruption of October 31, 2003.
Bribery is the most common example of a corruption-related crime involving both a government official and a private entity. Under Turkish law, bribery occurs when a private individual offers or gives something of value to a government official or someone appointed by the government official, directly or indirectly with the intent to influence actions or outcomes or when a government official solicits or receives something of value in exchange for the government official’s exercise or failure to exercise his or her public and legal duties. The Criminal Code is applicable to bribes offered or given to Turkish and foreign government officials, governmental authorities, public authorities, judges, jury members, other officials of Turkish, foreign, international or supranational courts and arbitrators. Officials or representatives of international or supranational organizations are also punishable under the Criminal Code.
Bribery is punishable by imprisonment. The term of imprisonment may vary between 4-12 years and may be reduced or increased by the court depending on the specifics of the case and the defendant. Under Turkish law, criminal liability is a personal liability reserved for individuals rather than corporate entities. Therefore, corporate entities as legal persons may not be convicted or sentenced for committing a crime. Corporate corruption may be criminally punished only through prosecution of a corporation’s executives or board members. If found guilty, individual executives or, where it is not possible to identify individual executives for the purposes of liability, the entire board may be punished by imprisonment. The Criminal Code provides leniency provisions for individuals who report bribes or other corrupt activities to the authorities prior to commencement of an investigation. This rule does not, however, apply to the bribing of foreign officials.
The Criminal Code provides a special prevention mechanism in the form of non-criminal sanctions, such as monetary fines under the Law of Misconduct or the revocation of the licenses required for operations, which may be imposed against corporate entities that have benefited from a corruption-related crime. Furthermore, certain sectors, such as energy, have regulations restricting the participation in activities in the relevant sector of officers and board members sentenced under the Criminal Code for corruption-related crimes.