Bribery in international business

Colombia needs to address major loopholes to hold companies liable for foreign bribery

 

21/10/2015 - Colombia needs to improve its capacity to investigate foreign bribery by establishing an effective corporate liability regime, improving coordination between its numerous agencies and more rigorously training law enforcement, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.


The 41-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 2 review of Colombia’s implementation of the Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. While the Working Group notes that Colombia has demonstrated serious efforts to implement the Convention since the Working Group’s Phase 1 review in 2012, it remains concerned that significant loopholes still exist in the framework for legal liability, despite the clear requirements of the Convention. The Working Group is hopeful that the adoption of Bill 159, currently before Parliament, can address a number of legislative deficiencies identified in the Report.

The main recommendations of the Working Group are that Colombia should:

  • Improve its corporate liability regime to cover publicly traded companies, financial institutions and non-profit entities, remove the need to establish a case against a natural person in order to pursue the legal person involved, and increase sanctions for legal persons;
  • Address shortcomings in its foreign bribery offence, which does not currently cover situations where the bribe was promised to the foreign public official, or offers that fail to reach the intended recipient;
  • Ensure that law enforcement bodies involved in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of foreign bribery cases are adequately trained, specialised and staffed;
  • Take all necessary steps to allow for the effective investigation and sanctioning of legal persons, including by providing adequate investigative tools to the administrative authorities in charge of corporate proceedings;
  • Provide adequate protection to both public and private sector whistleblowers.


The Report also highlights a number of positive aspects in Colombia’s fight against foreign bribery, including the introduction of an explicit prohibition of the tax-deductibility of bribes in response to the Working Group’s recommendation, recent awareness-raising initiatives among Colombian businesses, very effective procedures in place for international cooperation, and training of tax authorities.


The full Phase 2 Report is available, with the recommendations on pages 90-95.


More information on Colombia and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is available at http://www.oecd.org/countries/colombia/colombia-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm.


Information on the OECD’s work on anti-corruption can be found at : http://www.oecd.org/corruption/.


For further information, journalists are invited to contact the OECD’s Media Relations Division on (+33) 01 45 24 97 00.


Working with over 100 countries, the OECD is a global policy forum that promotes policies to improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

 

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