03/07/2008 - Estonia has focused its anti-corruption efforts to date on domestic bribery only, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. The Estonian public and private sectors accordingly have very low awareness of the foreign bribery offence and the OECD Convention.
The 37-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 2 review of Estonia’s implementation of the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Group concludes that absence of awareness of foreign bribery warrants strong measures to rectify this situation. There are also deficiencies in Estonia’s laws on foreign bribery and on corporate liability for such crimes.
The main recommendations of the Working Group are that Estonia should:
• Take measures in both the public and private sectors to prevent, detect, and raise awareness of foreign bribery.
• Broaden the criteria for imposing corporate criminal liability in order to make prosecution of legal persons that commit foreign bribery more likely and more effective.
• Amend the foreign bribery offence in the Penal Code, including expressly covering bribery of foreign officials who perform legislative functions.
The Working Group also highlights several positive aspects in Estonia’s fight against foreign bribery. Estonia’s legislation expressly denies the tax deduction of bribe payments. Its officially supported export credit agency has taken several measures to prevent and raise awareness of foreign bribery. These range from requiring anti-corruption declarations from applicants to discussing with clients the risks of foreign bribery in certain overseas markets.
Estonian prosecutors and law enforcement agencies have an effective system for case assignment, co-ordination, and information sharing. Shortly before the adoption of the Phase 2 report, Estonia took additional steps to raise awareness of foreign bribery within the tax authorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Estonia’s parliament adopted amendments to the Penal Code at the time the Working Group discussed the Phase 2 Report. The Report refers to but does not evaluate these amendments since the Group could not assess their practical application.
The full report is available at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/60/57/40953976.pdf, with the recommendations on pages 52-55.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Spencer Wilson of the OECD’s Media Division at (33) 1 45 24 81 18.
For more information on OECD's work to fight corruption, visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.