Local criminal and administrative anti-bribery enforcement in China has been much in the news lately. I have received many questions from clients over the years regarding who these different regulators are and what power they have to investigate, prosecute, and enforce criminal and administrative bribery charges.
The table below summarizes, in slightly simplified form, the three key agencies and their roles related to bribery and corruption enforcement:
(Click on the table to view or download a larger pdf version)
These are the three main agencies that are likely to knock on the door of your affiliate in China related to bribery or corruption issues. Enforcement normally occurs at the local (e.g., municipal or district) level, but occasionally occurs at the provincial level.
Note that several other agencies in China have power to investigate, inspect, raid, collect evidence, and interview employees. (If evidence of a crime were suggested, however, each would refer the evidence or the case to the criminal authorities listed above — the Public Security Bureau or the Procuratorate — for investigation and potential prosecution.) Here is a non-exhaustive list of government agencies with powers to investigative (as part of their other duties):
- National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC, 发改委): antitrust (pricing aspects of anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance)
- Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT, 工业和信息化部): violations of data privacy laws and regulations
- Tax Bureau (税务局): tax issues
- General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ, 质检局): product quality issues
- Courts (法院): evidence in civil cases (particularly IP cases)
- Customs’ Anti-Smuggling Bureau (海关缉私局): smuggling violations
Finally, companies in certain industries are also subject to inspection from their respective government regulators: China Food & Drug Administration (CFDA) for drug, device, cosmetics, and certain food services companies; China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) for certain financial institutions, China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) for certain securities companies, China Insurance Regulatory Commission for insurance companies, etc.
Eric Carlson, a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog, is a Beijing-based partner at Covington & Burling LLP. He specializes in anti-corruption compliance and internal investigations, with a particular focus on China and other regions of Asia. He speaks Mandarin and Cantonese and can be contacted here.