National legislation

Legislation that provides the authorities with sufficient means to intervene in any malpractice is an integral part of a comprehensive approach to combating corruption.

Finland has no separate legislation specifically governing anti-corruption measures or criminalising the different forms of corruption. Criminalisation means that a given act is defined as criminally punishable in the law.

Instead, many different acts together build a legislative package that lays down provisions on corruption and its prevention. Diverse legislation is needed because each and every situation where corruption occurs is unique. The circumstances, motives, advantages, parties and damages vary case by case.

Corruption is a widespread and complex phenomenon, and not all forms of corruption are criminalised and thus punishable. Corrupt activities are, however, often investigated as offences in public office, bribery offences, fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of insider information. 

Criminal Code lays down provisions on bribery offences

Bribery offences are the most clearly punishable corruption offences. The Criminal Code of Finland (pdf) contains fourteen sections on bribery offences. These sections lay down provisions on the different forms of giving and accepting bribes and on bribery in political and business activities.

The bribery offences criminalised in the Criminal Code are:

  • electoral bribery
  • bribery violation
  • (aggravated) giving of bribes
  • (aggravated) acceptance of a bribe
  • (aggravated) giving of bribes to a Member of Parliament
  • (aggravated) acceptance of a bribe as a Member of Parliament
  • (aggravated) giving of bribes in business
  • (aggravated) acceptance of a bribe in business.

The provisions governing bribery in the public sector aim to prevent inappropriate attempts to exercise influence over decision-making. Bribery in the public sector is a prime example of corruption and its adverse effects, because bribery weakens citizens' trust in authorities.

The provisions governing bribery in the private sector, on the other hand, aim to safeguard the trust-based relationship between a company and its employees. The provisions also aim to protect public trust in appropriate conduct in business and industry.

Punishments for bribery offences vary from a fine to imprisonment

Both active and passive bribery are punishable. Active bribery refers to giving or offering a bribe, whereas passive bribery refers to accepting or requesting a bribe.

Punishments for bribery offences vary from a fine to imprisonment for two years. If the value of a bribe is considerable, the offence may be considered aggravated, in which case the punishment is imprisonment for at least four months and at most four years.

Many other offences may also involve corrupt activities

Many other offences mentioned in the Criminal Code may also include elements of corruption.

Such offences are

  • fraud
  • embezzlement
  • money laundering
  • violation of a business secret
  • misuse of a business secret
  • misuse of a position of trust
  • (negligent) breach of official secrecy
  • (aggravated) abuse of public office
  • (negligent) violation of official duty
  • (aggravated) abuse of insider information

Other legislation supports anti-corruption efforts

In addition to the Criminal Code, the following acts play a key role in combating corruption:

In addition, the following acts specifically govern the activities of public officials: