OECD highlights anti-bribery weaknesses

17 Oct 13
Belgium, New Zealand and Russia must do more to tackle bribery of public officials by foreign organisations and individuals, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.

By Judith Ugwumadu | 17 October 2013

Belgium, New Zealand and Russia must do more to tackle bribery of public officials by foreign organisations and individuals, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has warned.

The OECD working group on bribery examined all three governments’ implementation and enforcement of its Anti-Bribery Convention. This establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. According to the OECD, it is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the ‘supply side’ of the bribery transaction.

The think-tank urged Belgium to address its ‘flagrant’ lack of resources for fighting bribery, which had resulted in very few investigations and prosecutions. In the 14 years since the entry into force of the foreign bribery offence in Belgium, only one case of bribery of foreign public officials has been concluded, the OECD said.

It also said it was worried at the lack of a system to protect public and private sector whistleblowers.

Belgium should promptly take measures to protect public and private sector employees who report suspected acts of foreign bribery to the competent authorities from any discriminatory or disciplinary action, the think-tank said.

New Zealand was urged to ‘significantly’ increase its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute corruption. The OECD said that it had serious concerns about New Zealand’s lack of enforcement of the foreign bribery offences.

Since joining the convention over 12 years ago, New Zealand has not prosecuted any cases of foreign bribery and only four allegations have surfaced to date.

‘[The working group is] also very concerned that outdated perceptions held by some individuals, including in the public sector, that New Zealand individuals and companies do not engage in bribery may undermine detection efforts.’

Russia, which adopted the Anti-Bribery Convention in April 2012, has not yet fully implemented recommendation for strengthening its policies for combating foreign bribery and needed to adopt a more proactive stance, the OECD said.

It called on Russia to develop and implement awareness-raising and training programmes for both public officials and the business sector.

 

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