20/06/2013-Portugal’s enforcement of its foreign bribery laws has been extremely low. Not a single prosecution has resulted from 15 allegations of Portuguese companies bribing foreign officials in high-risk countries. Several investigations have been closed prematurely. Some allegations were not investigated at all. Portugal must pursue all foreign bribery allegations more vigorously and thoroughly.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on Portugal’s implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Group made further recommendations to improve Portugal’s fight against foreign bribery, including:
- Prevent foreign officials from laundering proceeds of foreign bribery in Portugal
- Raise the alarmingly low awareness of Portuguese companies of the fight against foreign bribery
- Hold state-owned companies liable for foreign bribery
- Safeguard investigations from risks of influence by concerns of a political and economic nature
The report also highlighted positive aspects of Portugal’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. Portugal has taken steps to improve co-operation with other countries with which it has strong economic ties. Co-ordination among key law enforcement bodies has been strengthened. Law enforcement’s access to bank information has been improved through the creation of a centralised database of bank accounts and the Asset Recovery Office. Portugal has also commendably improved its legislation on foreign bribery and corporate liability. It now needs to focus its attention and resources on enforcing these laws.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Russia and South Africa – adopted Portugal’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The Report, available at www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption, lists all of the recommendations of the Working Group to Portugal on pages 50-55, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of Portugal’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. The report recommends a written follow-up report by Portugal in one year on its progress on enforcing its foreign bribery offences and on the implementation of certain recommendations. This report will help the Working Group decide whether a further evaluation is necessary.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Mary Crane-Charef, OECD Anti-Corruption Division Communications Co-ordinator, e-mail Mary.Crane-Charef@oecd.org; (33) 1 45 24 97 04.
For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.