2015-08-23 23.39.47

More than 50 % of OECD countries exporting corruption, says Transparency International

22 of the 41 OECD anti-bribery convention countries have failed to investigate or prosecute any foreign bribery case during the last four years, violating their obligation to combat cross-border bribery

According to the recently released report by Transparency International (TI), only four countries have improved their enforcement efforts while one country slid back. The 11th annual progress report on enforcement of the convention states that sixteen years after the convention came into force, a meagre four out of 41 countries are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that bribe foreign officials for lucrative business deals.

Enforcement levels: an overview
Enforcement levels: an overview

By signing up to the OECD anti-bribery convention, governments commit to investigate and prosecute cross-border corruption, yet nearly half of signatory governments are not doing so. The OECD must ensure real consequences for such poor performance. Violation of international law obligations to counter cross-border corruption cannot be tolerated.

Transparency International chair José Ugaz

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides for a host of related measures that make this effective. It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction. 34 OECD member countries and 7 non-member countries – Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia, and South Africa – have adopted this Convention.

The report adds that most of these countries fail to investigate and prosecute cross-border bribery due to a lack of political will and inadequate resources allocated toward enforcement measures and investigations.

The four leading enforcers completed 215 cases and started 59 new cases from 2011-2014 while the other 35 countries completed 30 and started 63. Twenty countries have not brought any criminal charges for major cross-border corruption by companies in the last four years.

Several countries drafted national anti-corruption plans but this does not mean that more resources will be provided for enforcement. The report mentioned that even in UK, the Serious Fraud Office’s budget remains a significant concern as it continues to be underfunded. In Chile and Japan sanctions for foreign bribery offences are inadequate and in France the application of sanctions is too lenient. In Russia changes to the criminal code reduced the size of penalties for receiving or giving bribes.

The report suggests that it is crucial that civil society and the private sector start national programmes that address the shortcomings of their governments.

Because adequate sanctions are crucial for the success of the Convention, therefore Convention parties should take action to ensure that their enforcement efforts result in effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

The report also pointed out that this report from TI is more comprehensive then the OECD working groups approach to such reports. One significant factor pointed out is that the Working Group receives data from the governments who are also part of the group while TI sources its data from independent experts.

The report can be downloaded here.