A new survey of legal professionals on awareness and impact of bribery and corruption (PDF), carried out by the International Bar Association with OECD support, was released on Monday, 4 October.
Among the findings:
- Nearly half of all respondents stated corruption was an issue in the legal profession in their own jurisdiction. The proportion was even higher – over 70 per cent – in the following regions: CIS, Africa, Latin America and, Baltic States and Eastern Europe.
- More than one in five said they have or may have been approached to act as an agent or middleman in a transaction that could reasonably be suspected to involve international corruption. Nearly a third of respondents said a legal professional they know has been involved in international corruption offences.
- 40 percent of respondents had never heard of key international anti-corruption instruments like the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
- More than one in five said they had been approached to take part in what could be a corrupt transaction and nearly a third said they had lost business to corrupt law firms or individuals.
This survey is part of a broader initiative involving the OECD, the IBA and the UNODC to help lawyers understand the impact and implications of anti-corruption instruments on their legal practice and profession. In 2010, a series of training sessions were held or are scheduled in Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Colombia. In 2011, these training sessions will expand to Asia and Eastern Europe. By 2012, the training will be expanded globally.
The survey was “the first step in a global effort to help understand and address the different challenges faced by legal professionals as a result of the threats of corruption,” said Fernando Pelaez-Pier, IBA President. “The organisations involved in the Strategy have understood that, by joining forces together, the success of a much needed industry-wide approach to international corruption will be guaranteed,” Mr. Pelaez-Pier added.
Nicola Bonucci, Director for Legal Affairs at the OECD, said: “The survey results are disappointing, so we need to do more to raise awareness of these instruments. International instruments like the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention form the basis for anti-bribery laws and enforcement actions the world over—lawyers need to be aware of how they can be affected in their own practice and of the tools that are available to assist with compliance. We are raising awareness of the Anti-Bribery Convention among the legal profession with the IBA, through trainings and projects like this survey. We have also launched our own Initiative to Raise Global Awareness of Foreign Bribery, which includes academic outreach, developing studies on the impact of transnational bribery and reaching out to partners in the private sector and civil society.”
Dimitri Vlassis, Head of the Corruption and Economic Crime Branch at UNODC, said “UNODC supports the initiative because of its potential to equip the legal profession with the tools it needs to perform its crucial mission. We were taken aback by the lack of crucial knowledge among legal professionals of key international instruments against corruption. It is, therefore, very important that these recommendations are already being implemented. The first set of in-country trainings is underway in Latin America and next year the programme will expand to other regions of the world. We all understand the importance of acting without delay to put legal professionals at the forefront of the anti-corruption movement. We need lawyers to act as leaders in this battle”.
For comment or more information, please contact:
Mary Crane, Communications Officer, OECD Anti-Corruption Division, email@example.com, +33 (0)1 45 24 9704
Gonzalo Guzman, Senior Staff Lawyer, IBA Legal Projects Team, firstname.lastname@example.org
International Bar Assocation Survey: Risks and threats of corruption and the legal profession