25/10/2012 - OECD Seriously Concerned by Lack of Foreign Bribery Convictions, but Encouraged by Recent Efforts by the Australian Federal Police.
Australia’s enforcement of its foreign bribery laws has been extremely low, with just a single case leading to prosecutions out of 28 referrals in 13 years. Cases may have been closed prematurely. Australia must vigorously pursue foreign bribery allegations.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on Australia’s implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Working Group will follow up Australia’s recent efforts to improve its enforcement record. The Group made further recommendations to improve Australia’s fight against foreign bribery, including:
- Take sufficient steps to ensure that cases are not prematurely closed;
- Gather foreign bribery allegations proactively and from diverse sources;
- Ensure that corporations cannot avoid criminal liability in practice;
- Improve co-ordination and case referral among Commonwealth and State authorities;
- Tap into the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s (ASIC) expertise in fighting corporate crime;
- Vigorously pursue false accounting cases.
The report also highlighted positive aspects of Australia’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. Recent initiatives indicate that the foreign bribery offence is becoming a priority for the Australian government. Australia’s first national anti-corruption plan is expected to be adopted in December 2012. An Experts Panel has been established to advise the Australian Federal Police’s foreign bribery investigation teams. The maximum fine against companies for foreign bribery was substantially increased in 2010. Guidance has been amended to clarify that the facilitation payment defence is restricted to payments of a minor value, and to eliminate certain examples that had caused concerns.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Russia and South Africa – adopted Australia’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The Report, available here, lists all of the recommendations of the Working Group to Australia on pages [47 - 51], and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of the Australia’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. As with other Working Group members, Australia 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 Spencer Wilson, at the OECD Media Division, e-mail Spencer.Wilson@oecd.org; (33) 1 45 24 81 18.
For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.