17/10/2013 - Fighting foreign bribery is not a priority in Belgium. Together with the flagrant lack of resources for Belgian law enforcement authorities, this has resulted in very few foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions. In the 14 years since the entry into force of the foreign bribery offence in Belgium, only one case of bribery of foreign public officials has been concluded.
The Working Group has just completed its report on Belgium’s application of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The Working Group strongly recommends that Belgium more vigorously prosecute cases of foreign bribery involving Belgian nationals and companies. The report also recommends that Belgium:
- Adopt, as a priority, the legal provisions necessary for Belgian legal persons to be held effectively liable for foreign bribery;
- Ensure that the statute of limitations (and possibilities to suspend it) allow for the effective investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery;
- Increase the level of sanctions for foreign bribery, particularly in relation to penalties against to companies; and
- Investigate foreign bribery allegations revealed in the context of international cooperation.
The report also highlights the positive aspects of Belgium’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. The Working Group welcomes the first conviction of non-Belgian nationals and companies for the foreign bribery offence, confirmed by the Brussels Appeal Court on 6 May 2013. It also welcomes the clarification brought about by the Law of 11 March 2007, in relation to several elements of the foreign bribery offence, as well as the tax regime for explicitly prohibiting the tax-deductibility of bribes. It is pleased by the active role played by the Belgian Financial Intelligence UNIT (CTIF) as a source of foreign bribery referrals to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
The Working Group – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa – adopted Belgium’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The Report, available here, lists all the recommendations of the Working Group to Belgium on pages 57-61, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of Belgium’s framework for fighting bribery of foreign public officials. The report recommends a written report by Belgium in one year on certain recommendations (i.e. October 2014). The Working Group invites Belgium to submit a written follow-up report on all recommendations in two years (i.e. October 2015).
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Mary Crane-Charef, Policy Analyst and Communications Coordinator, OECD Anti-Corruption Division, email Mary.Crane-Charef@oecd.org; + (33) 1 45 24 97 04.
For further information on OECD’s work fighting corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.