Transparency International (TI) calls on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to make enforcement of its Anti-Bribery Convention a central focus of its Ministerial Council Meeting beginning today in Paris.
TI urges the OECD to call on all signatory governments to promptly correct deficiencies in their laws and to undertake enforcement at a level sufficient to bring about the required change in corporate conduct in international transactions. This is especially the case in regards to the United Kingdom and Japan, who have done surprisingly little to enforce the Anti-Bribery Convention.
“It is of particular concern that the group of non-enforcing countries includes the UK and Japan, two of the world’s largest exporters. Continuing this lack of enforcement undermines the collective commitment by the major industrialised states to stop competing and undermining local governance efforts on the basis of bribery”, said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
The OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, the main international legal framework committing the world’s leading industrialised nations to criminalise and convict bribery of foreign public officials, is in danger. Almost ten years after it was adopted, there is little or no enforcement in two-thirds of signatory countries.
Ironically, countries that are perceived to have little corruption at the national level, are not keeping their commitments when it comes to addressing bribery overseas. In 2005, there was substantial enforcement in 8 of the 24 countries covered, rising to 12 of 31 countries covered in 2006, according to TI’s progress reports. Signatory countries account for about two-thirds of world exports of goods and services.
“Globalisation will be rejected by citizens if it is synonymous with criminal elements, money laundering and corruption in business and public affairs,” said, Jacques Terray, of Transparency International France, speaking today at the OECD Forum, a side meeting addressing “Innovation, Growth and Equity”.
Cases against major multinational firms have been brought in France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States. While this trend is positive, the UK government’s termination last December of an investigation into allegations of bribery by BAE Systems on a Saudi project is a huge setback for the Convention. Further, the UK’s failure to reform its antiquated laws on corruption should be addressed soon instead of extending passage of new laws until 2009 as is currently planned.
Japan, in turn, has corrected some deficiencies in its laws addressing bribery and brought one case. Yet the fact that enforcement of the Anti-Bribery Convention is virtually non-existent, feeds the widespread belief in the international business community, that the Japanese government gives high priority to winning export orders and is not committed to prosecuting foreign bribery.
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Letter to OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría.
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