OECD criticised over anti-bribery enforcement

By Chris Sleight24 May 2011

Anti-corruption non-governmental organisation Transparency International (TI) has criticised the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for poor enforcement of its own anti-bribery convention, which was adopted in 2009.

A report by TI shows that out of the 37 rich nations that make up the OECD group, only seven have active anti-bribery enforcement in place - Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the UK and US. However, this relatively small group of countries represents 30% of world trade according to TI.

TI went on to say there was what it described as 'moderate enforcement' in place in a further nine countries - Argentina, Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and Sweden, which represent 20% of world trade. However, there was little or no enforcement in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa and Turkey.

"Only where there is active enforcement is there sufficient deterrence against foreign bribery. The collective commitment to stamp out foreign bribery made by all OECD parties is undermined when a large number of countries have inadequate enforcement," said TI chair Hugette Labelle.

TI is urging laggard governments to put timetabled plans in place to strengthen their enforcement measures. It has also suggested that a list of these countries should be published by the OECD's working group on Bribery, so private companies will be aware they need to take extra care when doing business in these areas.

According to TI, bribery can account for as much as 25% of government procurement costs. The World Bank puts the cost of corruption at US$ 1 trillion per year. TI's Corruption Perceptions Index regularly ranks the construction and public works sector as the most susceptible to bribery.

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