Very few countries are actively enforcing international anti-corruption laws, says Transparency International

The majority of the world’s leading exporting countries are failing to fully enforce a ban on foreign bribery, according to a report by Transparency International (TI).

The report shows that only four out of 36 countries evaluated are actively enforcing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to which they are party. There is moderate enforcement in 11 other countries and little to no enforcement in 21 countries.

‘Such uneven enforcement jeopardises the success of the Convention’, commented TI. ‘Enforcement by all parties must be accelerated or the Convention will ultimately fail.’

‘Political will must be at the heart of efforts to deliver on anti-bribery,’ said Cobus de Swardt, managing director at TI. ‘Especially in the current global recession when businesses face acute pressure to win declining orders accelerated enforcement is needed to ensure fair competition.’

Whether through antiquated bribery laws, outright political obstruction of investigations, lack of adequate funding for prosecutors or curtailing the powers of investigative magistrates the OECD Convention is facing grave challenges, said the group.

Another major obstacle is the use of national security considerations as a reason for not prosecuting foreign bribery. The Convention does not permit national security exceptions, reaffirmed TI.

“Political will must be at the heart of efforts to deliver on anti-bribery.

Cobus de Swardt, managing director at Transparency International

‘When the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention came into force a decade ago it was a historical and much needed leap forward in the fight against corruption worldwide. The rich countries of the world committed to bring their house in order, deal a major blow to supply side corruption and give the fight against poverty worldwide a real chance to succeed,’ said de Swardt. ‘However, unless the OECD makes it an urgent, high-level priority for all parties to enforce the convention, inaction by some countries will encourage backsliding by others.’

To achieve a level playing field all the major exporters should play by the same rules, commented TI.

TI said it was encouraging that Israel and South Africa joined the Convention. But China, India and Russia also need to be brought into the fold. It is in the best interest of these countries to protect their firms’ investments with anti-bribery measures, added the group.

The full report is available by clicking the link below:

2009 Progress Report on the OECD Anti-bribery Convention

Extent of enforcement worldwide

Active Enforcement (4)
Germany, Norway, Switzerland, United States

Moderate Enforcement (11)
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Little or No Enforcement (21)
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey