24/02/2016 - The OECD Working Group on Bribery has serious concerns regarding Belgium’s limited efforts to comply with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The Group considers Belgium not sufficiently compliant with the Convention: Belgium has only fully implemented 5 recommendations out of the 30 Phase 3 recommendations made to Belgium in 2013.
After a comprehensive Phase 3 evaluation in October 2013, the OECD Working Group on Bribery made concrete recommendations to Belgium to intensify its actions to fight bribery of foreign public officials and to this end, undertake important reforms.
The Working Group acknowledges the efforts undertaken by the Belgian authorities to train Belgian judicial authorities and public officials on the fight against foreign bribery, in particular regarding investigations and prosecutions, as well as to raise awareness of the crime. It also welcomes the announcement of several planned reforms in line with the recommendations. Draft bills concerning the liability of legal persons and an increase in sanctions are underway. Belgium should urgently take the necessary measures to adopt this legislation as soon as possible.
Nevertheless, other essential modifications are not envisaged by the Belgian authorities. These include the reform of the limitation period applicable to the foreign bribery offence, private sector whistleblower protection and the allocation of adequate resources to law enforcement and judicial authorities to prosecute transnational bribery, notably given the important caseload linked to transnational corruption cases involving European officials referred to the Belgian authorities by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
The Working Group therefore asks Belgium to persevere in its enforcement of the offence of bribery of foreign public officials. Whilst welcoming the initiation of four new cases since October 2013, the Group remains concerned by the low proactivity of authorities in cases involving individuals or companies for actual or alleged acts of foreign bribery. To date, no court decision has been handed down concerning foreign bribery committed by Belgian natural or legal persons. Since 2013, only two non-Belgian individuals have been convicted of foreign bribery in relation to a case referred to the Belgian authorities by OLAF.
While recognising the work already accomplished by Belgium with respect to awareness raising and training, the Working Group strongly encourages Belgium to take the necessary measures to bring about the various reforms underway as soon as possible. Belgium will provide a written report to the Working Group on its progress in October 2016.
For more information on the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Belgium, please refer to: http://www.oecd.org/corruption/belgium-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm.
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