Bribery in international business

Estonia needs to promptly address rising foreign bribery risks, says OECD

 

12/06/2014 - Estonia’s framework for combating foreign bribery may be inadequate to efficiently tackle rising foreign bribery risks resulting from its increasingly export-intensive economy. The prevalent perception that Estonian individuals and companies do not bribe abroad may also be undercutting enforcement and awareness-raising efforts. Since joining the Convention in February 2005, Estonia has not prosecuted a single case of foreign bribery, in spite of existing allegations.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Report on Estonia’s application of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. Recommendations made by the Working Group include that Estonia should:

  • Adopt a whole-of-government approach to step up efforts to proactively detect foreign bribery; 
  • Raise the strikingly low awareness of Estonian companies in the fight against foreign bribery, in particular taking into account amendments to Estonia’s criminal legal framework on the bribery offence; 
  • Ensure that, in practice, its foreign bribery law can be applied to companies, even where proceedings against an individual are not possible;
  • Clarify whistleblower protection for private-sector employees, to encourage reporting of foreign bribery allegations.

The Report also highlights positive aspects of Estonia’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. These include the improvements to Estonia’s foreign bribery legislation, protection afforded to public sector whistleblowers under the Anti-Corruption Act, Estonia’s effective handling of mutual legal assistance requests and a robust anti-money laundering framework. These developments have the potential to facilitate the detection, investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery cases.

The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, the Russian Federation and South Africa – adopted Estonia’s Report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The Report, available here, lists all the recommendations of the Working Group to Estonia on pages 55-60, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of Estonia’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. As with other Working Group members, Estonia 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 Lynn Robertson, OECD Anti-Corruption Division Counsellor, email Lynn.Robertson@oecd.org; + (33) 1 45 24 18 77. For further information on OECD’s work fighting corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.