Transparency International (TI) welcomes today’s ruling by the British High Court allowing a full judicial review of the UK government’s decision to terminate an investigation into allegations of bribery by BAE Systems on the Al Yamamah arms project in Saudi Arabia.
“We are encouraged and hopeful that commitments made under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention will prevail. This decision will help to ensure that the Convention is implemented and investigations are carried out when necessary”, said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
The UK government’s assertion that national security concerns overrode its commitment to prosecute foreign bribery created a loophole that other governments might readily use to sidestep the convention’s provisions. Since the investigation was stopped by the Serious Fraud Office, TI has argued that Article Five of the convention forbids termination of a corruption investigation for any reason other than the merits of the case. The convention contains no provision for a national security exception.
“Hopefully, the judicial review will strengthen the case for effective prosecution of foreign bribery by the UK without political interference –which is critical to restoring the UK’s credibility in fighting international corruption”, said Laurence Cockcroft, Chair of Transparency International UK.
The OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention is an essential legal framework committing the world’s leading industrialised nations to criminalise the bribery of foreign public officials. Almost ten years after its adoption, there has been little or no enforcement in two-thirds of signatory countries.
TI’s 2007 Progress Report on OECD Convention Enforcement , issued in July, shows that more than half of 34 parties to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials are not enforcing the Convention or keeping their commitments.
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