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Anti-Corruption Activities Falling Short, Says OECD

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

27 April 2011

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has released figures showing that, while there are 38 signatories to its Anti-Bribery Convention, only a remarkably small minority are actively engaging in the sanctioning of individuals and companies.

The Convention, which came into force in 1999, has been adopted by the OECD's 34 member countries, and by four non members, namely Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, and South Africa. However, figures released ahead of a major new OECD/G20 anti-corruption conference, to be held from April 27-28, show that most governments fail to meet their commitments in the targeting of bribery and corruption in international business.

Since the Convention's implementation, 199 individuals and 91 companies have been punished for foreign bribery offences. However, the report demonstrates that a significant number of parties to the Convention have yet to penalise any individual or company, and that, in 2010, only five signatories imposed sanctions. The nations are the US, Germany, France, Switzerland and the UK.

The US tops this list, with eight individuals and 11 companies sanctioned, yet its figures remain far greater than those of the other countries to have successfully pursued those suspected of corruption. Figures show that Germany sanctioned three individuals; France and Switzerland one individual each; and the UK two individuals and one company. However, 260 investigations are currently ongoing in Convention countries.

According to Secretary-General Angel Gurría: "The US and Germany continue to set the benchmark in the fight against corruption that more countries must follow. It’s encouraging that France, Switzerland and the UK were active last year in sanctioning bribery".

With a view to encouraging closer cooperation in the international clamp down of bribery, in November, 2010, the G20 adopted an an Anti-Corruption Action Plan, which called upon those countries not party to the OECD Convention to work more closely with the OECD, or, in fact, join the convention. The countries specifically targeted by this resolution were China, India, Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Movement towards this goal has been made in these countries. Russia asked to join the Convention in February 2009. China passed laws to criminalise foreign bribery in February 2011. Indonesia prepared draft legislation in March 2011 and a bill has been presented to the Indian parliament to prohibit bribes to foreign public officials.

Secretary-General Angel Gurría is to use his speech at the upcoming anti-corruption conference to urge ministers and business leaders to step up enforcement and compliance with the Convention. Commenting on the report, he said: "Despite some progress in the past year, we need to see clearer signs that all countries are committing the political leadership and resources that effective enforcement requires".

TAGS: individuals | Russia | South Africa | compliance | business | India | Saudi Arabia | law | Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) | Bulgaria | China | United Kingdom | enforcement | legislation | Brazil | France | Germany | Indonesia | Switzerland | United States | G20 | Argentina | Africa

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