Italy should extend its statute of limitations to allow more time to prosecute and sanction companies and individuals in foreign bribery cases. Italy has concluded prosecutions against 60 defendants for foreign bribery in the past decade but only 3 companies and 9 individuals were sanctioned. The existing limit is the primary reason that significant enforcement efforts have led to only limited results, according to a new OECD report.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on Italy’s application of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Working Group also recommends that Italy:
- Eliminate concussione as a possible defence, which allows bribers to escape liability for foreign bribery in a wide range of situations where bribes are solicited;
- Ensure sanctions against individuals and companies are sufficiently dissuasive;
- Strengthen the detection of foreign bribery through means such as accounting and auditing and the introduction of whistleblowing protections; and
- Co-ordinate the investigation of foreign bribery conducted by public authorities.
The report also highlighted positive aspects of Italy’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. These include a comprehensive framework for prosecuting the offence, with varied means for punishing companies responsible for foreign bribery. Italy’s framework also creates a strong incentive for Italian companies to put in place internal compliance programs and the Working Group welcomed the increased level of awareness of the foreign bribery offence among companies. The Working Group also welcomed the use of non prosecution arrangements, known as patteggiamento, and the close cooperation with other parties to the Convention.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Russia and South Africa – adopted Italy’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The Report, available at www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption, lists all the recommendations of the Working Group to Italy on pages 50-54, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of Italy’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. As with other Working Group members, Italy will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years on steps it has taken to implement the new recommendations. This report will also be made publicly available.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Mary Crane-Charef, OECD Anti-Corruption Division Communications Officer, e-mail Mary.Crane-Charef@oecd.org; (33) 1 45 24 97 04.
For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.
PHASE 3 REPORT ON IMPLEMENTING THE OECD ANTI-BRIBERY CONVENTION IN ITALY
Italy - OECD Anti-Bribery Convention