The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention
What is it about?
The 1997 Anti-Bribery Convention was the first global instrument to fight corruption in cross-border business deals. It has since been ratified by all 30 OECD countries and six non-members. National governments and businesses have used the Convention to improve their own legislation and raise standards.
In short, bribing a foreign public official is now a crime and a punishable offence in all signatory countries. This is in itself a step forward from two decades ago when bribes could be written off tax as a business expense. Much bribery came from exporting countries, and targeting this “supply side” of the deal has distinguished the OECD Convention from other multilateral anti-bribery instruments, in the UN for instance.Beyond legal requirements, the Anti-Bribery Convention ensures effective enforcement through systematic monitoring. A special government-mandated group of experts, called the Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, surveys countries’ efforts to implement the Convention’s standards and monitor compliance. This working group meets four times a year.There are two rigorous examination phases: Phase 1, which assesses the conformity of the country’s anti-bribery laws with the Convention; Phase 2, which involves intensive meetings in the examined country with key players from government, business, trade unions and civil society, the aim being to build a clear picture of how effective that country’s anti-foreign bribery laws actually are. A supplementary phase, Phase 2bis arises if the working group decides further investigation is needed following queries that have been unsatisfactorily dealt with in Phase 2. This situation applies so far in the case of Ireland, Japan, and the UK, with Luxembourg to follow.Phase 1 was completed in 2006, while 30 countries, including all of the G7, have completed Phase 2, with the remainder to be completed by 2008. The in-depth country reports are published at www.oecd.org/bribery .References
- OECD (2007, forthcoming), Implementing the OECD Anti-bribery Convention: Annual Report 2006, Paris.
- For more on OECD work on corruption, see OECD Fights Corruption, available at www.oecd.org/dataoecd/36/51/37418910.pdf
- For information on the review process, see “OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: Phase 2 Monitoring Information Resources”, at www.oecd.org/corruption
The five main instruments:1. 1996 Recommendation of the Council on the Tax Deductibility of Bribes to Foreign Public Officials;2. 1997 Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions;3. 1997 Revised Recommendation of the Council on Combating Bribery in International Business Transactions (entry into force of OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: 15 February 1999);4. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;
5. 2003 Action Statement on Bribery and Officially Supported Export Credits.Number of signatory countries: 36.Most recent Party to the Convention: Estonia.Most recent Full Participant to the Working Group on Bribery: Estonia (2004).Six non-OECD countries are Parties to the Convention: Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Estonia, Chile and Slovenia.State of play: 30 countries have completed their Phase 2 review, including all G7 countries.Phase 2 schedule 2007: Slovenia, Chile, Turkey, Brazil. 2008: Argentina, Estonia.
OECD Observer N° 260, March 2007