Fighting bribery

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which entered into force 10 years ago this December, was the first global instrument to fight corruption in cross-border business deals. To date, 30 OECD member countries and eight non-member countries-Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia, Israel, Slovenia and South Africa-have adopted the convention.

In short, the convention makes bribing a foreign public official a punishable crime in all signatory countries-quite a change from just a couple of decades ago when bribes could be deducted from taxes as a business expense. The convention applies to both individuals and companies, and covers offering or promising a bribe, as well as actually giving one.

Under the convention, foreign bribery is a crime regardless of whether the bribe is offered through an intermediary, or whether the advantage is for the foreign public official or a third party, such as a spouse, political party, or company in which the offi cial has an interest. All forms of bribes are prohibited, including tangible or intangible, and pecuniary and nonpecuniary advantages, such as membership in a club or a job in the private sector.

Bribery is a crime even if the person or entity that offered or gave the bribe was the best-qualified bidder in a procurement process and would have been awarded the contract purely on merit. Criminality also applies regardless of whether the bribe was accepted or the official provided the desired advantage, or if bribery is tolerated or even widespread in the country concerned.

The convention also establishes an openended, peer-driven monitoring mechanism to ensure that the signatory countries thoroughly meet their international obligations. The rigorous evaluation process, which Transparency International calls the "gold standard" of monitoring, is conducted by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

Visit www.oecdobserver.org/corruption and www.oecd.org/corruption

© OECD Observer, No. 275, November 2009




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