Governments backsliding on prosecution of foreign bribery by companies: report

Tue Oct 8, 2013 4:01am EDT

WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments of major exporting nations are backsliding in their readiness to crack down on companies that use bribery to win international market share, a new report has found.

Thirty of the 40 developed countries that have signed up to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Anti-Bribery Convention are barely investigating or prosecuting cases, Transparency International said. The convention sets the gold standard for combating corporate bribery in foreign contracting.

Those countries with active anti-bribery enforcement programs in 2012 were the United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Switzerland, which account for 26.2 percent of world exports, it said.

That is a retreat from the prior year when seven countries had active programs. Italy slipped into the moderate enforcement camp, while Norway and Denmark, which have reduced their activity over the past four years, fell even further, it said. Only eight countries have fully met their OECD commitments, it said.

Russia for the first time had no enforcements of anti-bribery laws in 2012. Those with no record of enforcement at all over the past four years were Estonia, New Zealand, Greece, Israel, Chile, Mexico and Ireland.

The failure to crack down on foreign bribery in contracts, licensing, tax dodging and other forms of corruption reflects budget cuts to enforcement agencies, a lack of expert knowledge or skill on how to pursue cases and a failure to apply the laws, the global anti-corruption group said.

"The 40 countries, which represent more than two thirds of global exports, would make it very hard to get away with bribery if they lived up to the requirements of the OECD anti-bribery convention," said Transparency International Chair Huguette Labelle.

Transparency International urged all major exporters to join the OECD anti-bribery convention, which the G20 has repeatedly recommended. China, India, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are large exporters that have not yet done so.

(Reporting By Stella Dawson)

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