23/11/2006 - The Czech Republic needs to establish liability against legal persons for foreign bribery without delay and put in place sanctions that are effective, proportionate and dissuasive, according to a report by the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery.
The 36-country Working Group has just completed a review of the Czech Republic’s enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The review had unfortunately been delayed because the Czech Republic postponed an on-site visit to Prague originally scheduled for October 2005. The visit was eventually rescheduled for May 2006, but the postponement nonetheless raised doubts at the time about the Czech Republic’s commitment to implement the Convention.
The main recommendations of the Working Group are that the Czech Republic should:
- Establish liability of legal persons for foreign bribery without delay and put in place sanctions that are effective, proportionate and dissuasive. The Group further expects the Czech Republic, within 12 months, to report specifically in writing on the progress of this issue.
- Raise the profile of foreign bribery in its anti-corruption efforts, and specifically target Czech individuals and companies that operate internationally, as well as entities involved in official development assistance, taxation, accounting and auditing.
- Consider adopting additional measures to strengthen protection for whistleblowers in order to encourage employees to report suspected cases of foreign bribery without fear of retaliation.
- Raise awareness among prosecutors of the importance of forfeiture and confiscation, and encourage prosecutors to seek these sanctions in corruption cases whenever possible.
The Working Group also highlighted some positive aspects of the Czech Republic’s fight against foreign bribery. The Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation has devoted significant attention to raising awareness of foreign bribery and the Convention among its clients. The Czech Republic has adopted legislation that expressly denies tax deduction of foreign bribe payments. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code should enable a court to forfeit or confiscate assets belonging to beneficial owners, as well as assets of equivalent value if forfeiture or confiscation of the original asset is frustrated.
The report (with the full recommendations on pages 50-53) also includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal and policy features in the Czech Republic for combating the bribery of foreign public officials. As with the Working Group’s other reports, the Czech authorities will report orally 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 the Czech Republic’s implementation of the recommendations.
For more information, journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media Division (tel. +33 (0)1 45 24 97 00) or Patrick Moulette, Head, Anti-corruption Division (tel. +33 (0)1 45 24 91 02).
For further information on the OECD’s work on anti-corruption, please visit http://www.oecd.org/corruption.