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Exporting Corruption: Governments Called on to Crack Down on Foreign Bribery

Posted October 23, 2014

Many leading economies are failing to stop their companies from spreading corruption around the world, anti-corruption group Transparency International warned today 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 –  the U.S., Germany, U.K., and Switzerland – 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, including Canada and Australia, were classified as having moderate enforcement, while another eight had limited enforcement.

OECD-Corruption Map-2014-2

OECD-Corruption Map-2014-1

“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.”

Canada is the only country to show measurable improvement since last year’s report, having significantly improved its foreign bribery law and started several investigations. In contrast, 22 of the countries party to the OECD Convention, representing 27 percent of world exports, are doing little or nothing by way of enforcement.

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.

Click here to download the report.