Transparency International USA has applauded final congressional approval of legislation to implement the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials. This action caps the process Congress initiated with the 1988 Omnibus Trade Act, when it directed the President to negotiate an international anti-bribery agreement.
U.S. action helps assure that the Convention will go into effect before year-end. Germany, Japan, Austria, Bulgaria and Iceland have already ratified the Convention, and the U.S. can now encourage others to meet the December 31, 1998 deadline. Passage of the legislation last week also strengthens the hand of U.S. negotiators in pressing other countries to enact consistent legislation, a prerequisite of an effective international anti-bribery system.
Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley, whose intervention helped secure this successful outcome hailed congressional action as "a vital step toward improving America’s global competitiveness."
"Transparency International-USA commends the Administration and those in Congress, including Senator Helms for ensuring prompt ratification, the leadership, Senator Burns and Congressman Bliley, and the good offices of Senator McCain and Congressman Markey for securing bipartisan support in the Senate and House for this major accomplishment," said Fritz Heimann, Chairman of the U.S. chapter of Transparency International, the global coalition against corruption.
The landmark OECD Convention obligates the 34 parties to enact domestic laws criminalising bribery of foreign public officials as the U.S. did when Congress enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act over twenty years ago. Since the signatories are home to virtually all major multinational corporations, these laws will significantly restrict the "supply side" of international bribery.
As the chief U.S. negotiators of the Convention, Assistant Secretary of State Alan P. Larson, stated, "thirty-four of the world’s largest economies are declaring an end of an era: it will no longer be business as usual for those who bribe." This will level the playing field for America business by subjecting all competitors to similar prohibitions. The Convention also represents an important step in developing more transparent rules for the global economy, curbing abuses that have played a role in the economic crises in Asia, Latin America, and Russia.
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