Too few enforcing anti-bribery laws, finds Transparency International
Many leading economies are failing to stop their companies from spreading corruption around the world, anti-corruption group Transparency International has warned 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.
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.