29/03/2007 - Portugal should raise awareness of foreign bribery in both the public and private sector and be more proactive in detecting, investigating and prosecuting cases of bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions, according to a report by the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery. Given the broad range of Portugal’s international trading partners, including in countries where risks for corruption may be especially high, more investigations and prosecutions of foreign bribery would be expected.
The 36-country OECD Working Group on Bribery, in the context of its regular cycle of reviews, has just completed a review of Portugal’s enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
The main recommendations of the OECD Working Group are that Portugal should:
take measures to disallow and forbid undocumented, confidential expenses in order to strengthen the tax administration’s ability to detect bribes;
amend laws to ensure the effective prosecution of bribery of foreign officials, by establishing a fully “autonomous definition” of foreign officials that eliminates the need to define the foreign official’s status according to the law in his or her own country before pursuing the Portuguese briber;
enhance and clarify reporting obligations and procedures within the public service and the accounting and auditing professions;
give law enforcement authorities additional resources and training to proactively detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery offences;
raise awareness among relevant public officials on preventing, detecting, reporting and investigating foreign bribery; and work more closely with the private sector and civil society to raise awareness on foreign bribery and its consequences and to develop effective prevention strategies.
The Working Group also highlighted positive aspects of Portugal’s fight against foreign bribery. Portugal has law enforcement units specialised in fighting corruption and other economic and financial crimes, and a broad range of investigative techniques can be used by law enforcement authorities. A wide variety of sanctions, including fines and debarment from the right to bid in public tenders, is also available for punishing natural and legal persons found guilty of foreign bribery, even though the effectiveness of these sanctions in practice remains to be tested.
The report, with the full recommendations on pages 62-64, also includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal and policy features in Portugal for combating the bribery of foreign public officials. As with all other OECD Working Group reports, Portugal will orally report to the Working Group after one year on its actions to implement the Working Group’s recommendations. A further report in writing to the Working Group within two years will give rise to a publicly-available evaluation by the Working Group of Portugal’s implementation of the recommendations.
For more information, journalists are invited to contact the OECD's Media Division (tel. + 33 1 45 24 97 00).
For further information on OECD work on anti-corruption: http://www.oecd.org/corruption