Transparency International calls on governments to crack down on foreign bribery

Only 4 countries actively enforce 15 year-old rules designed to keep global trade fair

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

Translations: ES | FR

Many leading economies are failing to stop their companies from spreading corruption around the world, anti-corruption group Transparency International warned today in its annual progress report on enforcement of the OECD anti-bribery convention.

Fifteen years after the entry into force of the convention, only four of 41 countries signed up are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that cheat taxpayers when they bribe foreign officials to get or inflate contracts, or obtain licences and concessions. Five countries were classified as having moderate enforcement, while another eight had limited enforcement.

“For the anti-bribery convention to achieve a fundamental change in the way companies operate, we need a majority of leading exporters to be actively enforcing it, so that the other countries will be pressured to follow suit,” said Transparency International chair José Ugaz. “Unfortunately, we are a long way from that tipping point, and that means the vision of corruption-free global trade remains far away.”

Twenty-two of the countries party to the OECD Convention are doing little or nothing by way of enforcement. The 22 countries represent 27 per cent of world exports. Transparency International said enforcement is low because investigators lack political backing to go after big companies, especially where the considerations of national economic interest trump anti-corruption commitments. Investigators also often lack the resources to investigate complex white-collar crime.

Governments need to act on secret company ownership

One reason cross-border bribery in international business deals thrives - despite being outlawed - is that investigators lack the resources to track the complex money laundering techniques increasingly used to conceal bribery deals, Transparency International said.

Today corrupt deals are increasingly masked by sophisticated shell companies whose real beneficial owner is not known, even to authorities.

The OECD needs to help authorities work together across borders if they are to keep pace with the increasingly cross-border nature of crime, Transparency International said. The anti-corruption group also reiterated its call on the EU and G20 to ensure the publication of beneficial ownership in public registers of company information.

"Fifteen years should have been enough to enforce these commitments. The OECD has worked hard to make the convention a powerful tool and pushed governments to adopt tough laws. Now it needs to make sure that enforcement authorities have all the support they need to counter the growing power of cross-border crime networks,” Ugaz said.

The Convention was adopted in 1997 and entered into force on 15 February 1999.

The four leading enforcers (Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States) completed 225 cases and started 57 new cases from 2010-2013. The other 35 countries completed 20 and started 53. Twenty countries have not brought any criminal charges for major cross-border corruption by companies in the last four years.

Canada is the only country to show significant improvement since last year’s report, having significantly improved its foreign bribery law and started several investigations.

Nine of the 20 countries with the least public sector corruption are doing little or nothing to make sure their companies follow the same standards overseas, allowing them to contribute to public sector corruption elsewhere.

Nine of the countries in the G20 are in the little or no enforcement categories, meaning they are failing to meet the goals set in the G20’s anti-corruption action plan.


Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

For any press enquiries please contact

Chris Sanders
T: +49 30 3438 20 666
E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


Support Transparency International

#18IACC: Call for workshop proposals now open!

The 18th edition of the International Anti-Corruption Conference to take place in Copenhagen from 22-24 October 2018 is thrilled to announce that the call for workshop proposals is now open. Help us shape the #18IACC agenda! Anyone interested in the fight against corruption is welcome to submit a proposal.

The impact of land corruption on women: insights from Africa

As part of International Women’s Day, Transparency International is launching the Women, Land and Corruption resource book. This is a collection of unique articles and research findings that describe and analyse the prevalence of land corruption in Africa – and its disproportionate effect on women – presented together with innovative responses from organisations across the continent.

Passport dealers of Europe: navigating the Golden Visa market

Coast or mountains? Real estate or business investment? Want your money back in five years? If you're rich, there are an array of options for European ‘Golden Visas’ at your fingertips, each granting EU residence or citizenship rights.

How the G20 can make state-owned enterprises champions of integrity

For the first time in its presidency of the G20, Argentina is hosting country representatives from across the globe to address the best ways of curtailing corruption and promoting integrity in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Europe and Central Asia: More civil engagement needed (Part II)

As follow-up to the regional analysis of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, additional examples from Albania, Kosovo and Georgia highlight the need for more progress in anti-corruption efforts in these countries and across the region.

Lutte contre la corruption en Afrique: Du bon et du moins bon

La publication de la dernière édition de l’Indice de perception de la corruption (IPC) offre un bon point de repère pour situer les efforts de lutte contre la corruption que l’Union africaine (UA) poursuivra tout au long de 2018

No hay cambios en las percepciones pese a los avances en América

En los últimos años, América Latina y el Caribe lograron adelantos significativos en la lucha contra la corrupción. En muchos países de la región existen ahora leyes y mecanismos para contrarrestar este fenómeno, las investigaciones legales están avanzando y los movimientos ciudadanos anticorrupción han incrementado. Sin embargo, de acuerdo con el Índice de Percepción de la Corrupción (IPC) 2017, la región continúa con bajos puntajes.

A redefining moment for Africa

The newly released Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) provides a good baseline for the African Union (AU) anti-corruption efforts in 2018. This year’s theme for the AU is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.” As the AU rolls out its plan, this is an important moment for Africa to take stock of the current situation.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world