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France Implements Historic Anti-Corruption Agreement

But TI warns that Italy, Japan and Netherlands are ducking OECD commitments - serious shortcomings in monitoring programme

Transparency International has welcomed landmark legislation to fully implement the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The French National Assembly yesterday evening passed the final hurdles to translate the ban on bribe payments to foreign public officials into national law. "These are major steps towards creating an effective international regime against corruption," said TI Chairman Dr Peter Eigen.

The decision taken by the French National Assembly further increases the pressure on the major industrialised countries that have so far failed to adequately implement the Convention, namely Japan, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. "It is of particular concern that the Netherlands and the UK remain the only country not to have abolished the tax-deductibility of bribe payments abroad," said the TI Chairman.

The OECD will review the progress that has been made by member countries in implementing the landmark anti-corruption convention of 1997 during its Ministerial Meeting in Paris next week.

"It is now up to Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to contribute to the momentum created by the French legislative action in this field," said Eigen. "The Convention's success depends on reciprocal assurances that all the major players in the global economy are playing by the same rules," he added.

According to information received by TI, final legislation to implement the OECD Convention should be passed by the Italian Senate by the end of July; however, there have been continuous delays. Japan has formally ratified the Convention. However, the Japanese implementing legislation has serious shortcomings that must be corrected.The British government has recently announced a consultation process which is expected to lead to legislative action, but no timing has been indicated. TI Chairman Eigen noted that the United Kingdom was "risking to derail the OECD process by failing to introduce adequate legislation in a timely way."

TI recommends that the OECD Ministerial Meeting press strongly for prompt completion of ratification and passage of effective implementing laws by all 34 signatories. "Further delays in meeting their commitments raise the risk of loss of momentum for the entire effort to make the OECD Convention work," said Peter Eigen. And according to the Chairman of the OECD Anti-Corruption Working Group, Professor Mark Pieth, "one should not be astonished if trading partners all over the world would regard companies from the laggard countries as unsafe."

"OECD Monitoring dangerously understaffed"

TI's work with the OECD has made clear that the available resources are seriously inadequate for the demands of the next phase of the monitoring programme and for work required on other closely related issues. Staffing and budgeting must be provided which realistically reflects what needs to be done and that the monitoring programme will take six years at minimum, and more likely ten years. The Anti-Bribery Convention represents one of the OECD's most outstanding accomplishments of the past decade. "From TI's perspective, it seems incredible that, with a staff of 1,800, the OECD cannot assign more than three people to make sure that the Convention achieves its objectives," said Eigen.

The new government paper called "Raising Standards and Upholding Integrity: The Prevention of Corruption" is based on recommendations by the Law Commission from 1998 and is available at http://www.official-documents.co.uk/.


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