Does the law place any restrictions on hospitality, travel and entertainment expenses? Are there specific regulations restricting such expenses for foreign public officials?
Bribery & Corruption
Under the PCA, any public servant accepting or attempting to accept any form of illegal gratification as a reward for doing or forbearing to do an official act is an offence. The Act specifically explains that the term ‘gratification’ is not restricted to pecuniary gratifications or to gratifications estimable in money.
In addition to the specific provisions of PCA, public servants are also governed by their rules of service stipulated in the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules 1964 and the All India Services (Conduct) Rules 1968. These Rules prohibit a government servant or any member of his or her family or any other person acting on his or her behalf to accept gifts which include services like free transport, boarding, lodging or other hospitality services. In case such gifts are accepted by a government servant in conformity with any prevailing religious and social practice, then the official is duty bound to report the same to the Government. These Rules lay monetary thresholds for certain public servants regarding the acceptance of gifts, business courtesies and hospitality received in accordance with prevailing religious or social practice.
According to the LCMLO, gifts and hospitality may amount to an undue advantage (“vantagem indevida”). Any public official who, in the exercise of his public office functions or because of them, personally or through a third party, with their consent or ratification, requests or accepts, for himself or for a third party, an advantage (for value / in kind or not) which is not due (and this includes hospitality, travel and entertainment expenses) will be committing the crime of receiving an undue advantage .
The law excludes from the scope of this crime any socially adequate conduct consistent with habits and customs.
The term “undue advantage” is used in the law to characterize any benefit granted and it can include facilitation payments, gifts and hospitality and, therefore, their request or acceptance or on the other hand, their offer or promise to offer even where not in consideration for any act or omission, may constitute a crime of undue receipt as set forth in Articles 372 of the Penal Code and 16 of Law no. 34/87.
A conduct deemed as socially appropriate and consistent with customs and practice is excluded from this legal framework.
Reasonable criteria must be used when assessing each situation, taking into account the specific case, and in particular, the sector under consideration, the context and the parties involved.