Bribery in international business

High acquittal rate jeopardises Finland's efforts to combat foreign bribery

 

23/03/2017 - Finland has proactively investigated seven allegations of Finnish individuals or companies paying bribes to foreign public officials since 1999 but needs to address its discouragingly high acquittal rate. Each of the five cases that have progressed to prosecution has resulted in the acquittal of all parties for foreign bribery. Finland needs to do more to ensure that judges are equipped to enforce foreign bribery, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

 

The Group has just completed its evaluation of Finland's implementation and enforcement of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and related instruments. The report praises the detection and investigation efforts of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) as well as the Prosecution’s efforts to bring cases to court, but concludes that Finland's overall enforcement efforts have been hampered by the Finnish courts' practical application of the foreign bribery offence.

 

The Group made a range of recommendations, including that Finland should:

 

  • Ensure that foreign bribery cases are heard by courts or judges with specialised skills and experience in economic crime and corruption cases;
  • Provide detailed written information and training to judges, prosecutors, and investigators on the foreign bribery offence and its application; and
  • Enact clear and comprehensive legislation to protect whistleblowers.

 

The report also recognises that Finland has made improvements since its last evaluation in 2010. Government awareness of and commitment to combatting corruption, including foreign bribery, appear to have improved. The Ministry of Justice has initiated several projects which, if implemented, may further support foreign bribery enforcement. The NBI has been thorough in its foreign bribery investigations and has consistently used the full range of available investigative tools, including mutual legal assistance and joint investigation teams. Prosecutors have been actively involved in these investigations at an early stage, and have collaborated with the NBI as the investigation develops through formal, detailed, investigative plans.

 

Finland's report was adopted by the 44 members of the OECD Working Group on Bribery on 16 March 2017. The report, available here, lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Finland on pages 43-46, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Finland's framework for fighting foreign bribery. Finland is not subject to any exceptional measures and in accordance with the standard procedure will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years on steps taken to implement these recommendations. This report will also be made publicly available.

 

The report is part of the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s fourth phase of monitoring, launched in 2016. Phase 4 looks at the evaluated country’s particular challenges and positive achievements. It also explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international cooperation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports. 

 

For further information, journalists are invited to contact Daisy Pelham, (+33 (0)1 45 24 90 81). For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/corruption.

 

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