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G 7 Summit holds key to global anti-bribery treaty

Canada, France, Italy and UK must take first step

The G7 leaders meeting in Birmingham, UK, must force action on a major treaty to criminalise the bribery of foreign officials, states Transparency International (TI), the Berlin-based anti-corruption non-governmental organisation.

The 1997 G7 Summit in Denver provided the impetus for the Paris signing last December of an anti-corruption convention by all 29 member governments of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) plus five other countries. "But it is clear that if the Convention is to be ratified and made effective by the world's leading industrial countries this year, strong support for swift enactment by the G7 members is crucial, "says TI Chairman Peter Eigen.

Transparency International, with more than 60 National Chapters around the world, is the leading anti-corruption organisation; it sees the ratification of the OECD Convention as a milestone in curbing the ability of international firms to bribe foreign officials to win contracts.

The Convention will only be effective if it becomes binding for all major exporting countries at the same time, notes Peter Eigen and he adds: "Companies will only stop bribing abroad when they can be certain that the same rules apply to their competitors."

Of the G7 countries, only Germany, Japan and the United States have submitted legislation to their parliaments to ratify and implement the OECD Convention, while France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom have yet to take this first step (see links at the bottom).

"The Paris agreement called for all 29 OECD countries to submit legislation to their parliaments by April 1 and to fully legislate by December 31, 1998. We are concerned that the momentum will be lost and some key countries will delay action without a new, firm push by the G7 Summit leaders. This is why we are now calling on the Summit to focus on this key issue again," notes TI's chairman.

Commenting on the broader context of the Convention, Peter Eigen points out that ratification of the Convention is just a first step. "Ending the devastating effects of corruption on people, the economy and the environment will only be possible if all competitors have adequate assurance that everyone is deterred from bribery."

This treaty alone cannot provide this assurance and numerous additional measures will be necessary, argues TI. For example, a critical issue remaining is ending the tax-deductibility of bribes and TI notes that no meaningful steps have been taken yet to that end in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands. In addition, while reviews of this practice are taking place in numerous other countries now (for example, Austria, Australia, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland), final decisions to end tax-deductibility of bribes has still to be taken.

For further information,

  • in the United States contact: TI Vice Chairman Frank Vogl at tel. 1-202-331 8183, fax 1-202 331 8187
  • on the status of the US in the ratification process please contact:

    TI USA, Ms. Nancy Zucker-Boswell at tel. 1-202-682 7048, fax 1-202-682 7086

  • or at TI's International Secretariat in Berlin please contact: Mr. Jeff Lovitt at tel. 49-30-343 8200, fax 49-30-3470 3912, e- mail:

Transparency International at the G 7 Summit in Birmingham:

  • Crimes Against the People. A People's Summit Conference:

    The G7 emphasis on law enforcement is welcome but must be coupled with international action on human rights, arms sales and corruption.

    2.30-5.30 pm Friday, 15th May, Library Theatre, Birmingham.

  • Contact TI UK, Mr. Laurence Cockcroft at tel. 44-171-226 6166 or Mr. Graham Rodmell at tel 44-1892-530 356.

For the full text of the convention in English or French contact the OECD at fax 33-1-4524 8500 or on the Internet here.

The status of ratification of the OECD Convention and tax-deductibility in the 34 countries that have signed the OECD Convention is indicated in the documents on the OECD Websites.

Entry into force of the OECD Convention
OECD members agreed that the convention would only enter into force by 31 December 1998 if it had been ratified by the largest OECD exporters. This group is identical with the G 7-group.
The Convention states in Article 15 that it will only enter into force if "five of the ten countries which have the ten largest (OECD) export shares ..., and which represent by themselves at least sixty percent of the combined total exports of those ten coun-tries" have ratified the Convention. The ten largest exporters include the United States, Germany, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, South Korea, Netherlands, Belgium-Luxembourg.

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