A key element of the OECD's fight against corruption is the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions which entered into force in 1999.
The Anti-Bribery Convention is the first and only legally binding instrument to focus on the supply of bribes to foreign public officials. Countries that are party to the Convention must prosecute individuals who offer, promise or give bribes to foreign public officials and subject them to effective penalties including heavy fines or even prison time.
Under the Convention, individuals and companies can also be prosecuted when third parties are involved in the bribe transaction, such as when someone other than the official who was bribed receives the benefit, including a family member, business partner, or a favourite charity of the official. Foreign bribery is also a crime under the Convention even if corruption is tolerated in the foreign country. It also does not matter if the briber was entitled to the business advantage that the bribe was supposed to secure. And, bribe payments are no longer tax deductible. To date, 290 companies and individuals have faced criminal sanctions for the bribery of foreign public officials in international business deals. Forty of those individuals have gone to jail. Approximately 260 investigations are ongoing.
By joining the Convention, countries agree that foreign bribery is in no one’s interest. It distorts competitive markets; it undermines good governance; and, worst of all, it ends up hurting the world’s poorest and most vulnerable.
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