A new report from the anti-corruption organization Transparency International (TI), shows no improvement in the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the past year and warns that this could signal a dangerous loss of momentum in the fight against corruption.
Huguette Labelle, Chair of TI, calls on top government leaders attending the OECD Ministerial on 25-26 May to take action to pressure lagging member states to reinvigorate enforcement of OECD’s landmark Convention.
The TI Progress report on enforcement of the OECD convention, covering 37 countries, shows that there are still only seven countries with active enforcement, nine with moderate enforcement, and 21 with little or no enforcement which includes Chile, Brazil and Mexico.
This is the first time in the seven years TI has been reporting on the OECD anti-bribery Convention that no progress has been made in the number of countries enforcing the Convention’s prohibition against foreign bribery.
TI’s findings are consistent with the OECD’s own review, which reported that only five parties to the Convention sanctioned individuals or companies in the past year.
“Only where there is active enforcement is there sufficient deterrence against foreign bribery,” said Labelle. “The collective commitment to stamp out foreign bribery made by all OECD parties is undermined when a large number of countries have inadequate enforcement. Without consistent enforcement one of the success stories of the OECD’s past decade will start to unravel. Failure to enforce the Convention will allow corruption to flourish, which means that resources will be diverted from the poor and that honest companies will lose out.”
Adequate enforcement requires renewed political commitment by government leaders in the lagging countries. Where political will is lacking, OECD’s country reviews have not been enough to achieve active enforcement. Pressure must be exerted at the highest political level.
TI recommends that the leaders meeting this week in Paris for the OECD’s 50th Anniversary Ministerial commit to reinvigorate the fight against foreign bribery by adopting a twelve-month programme consisting of the following steps: Governments with lagging enforcement should promptly prepare plans for strengthening enforcement and a timetable for such action; the Secretary-General and the Chairman of the Working Group on Bribery should meet with top leaders of governments with lagging enforcement to review plans and timetable for strengthening enforcement; a full review of the status of foreign bribery enforcement should take place at the May 2012 Ministerial; the Working Group on Bribery should publish a list of governments with lagging enforcement. This would make clear that a higher level of due diligence is needed to do business with companies based in these countries.
According to TI, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, UK and the US, representing 30% of world trade, are actively involved in anti bribery enforcement, Another 9 countries, (20% of world trade) Argentina, Belgium, Finland, France, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.
The rest have little or no enforcement. Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovak republic, Slovenia, South Africa and Turkey.