23/10/2012 - France should intensify its efforts to combat the bribery of foreign public officials. Only five convictions – of which one, under appeal, involves a company – have been handed down in twelve years. The OECD Working Group on Bribery is concerned by the lacklustre response of the authorities in actual or alleged cases of foreign bribery involving French companies. The Working Group finds that sanctions are not sufficiently dissuasive and expresses concern over the lack of confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on France’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Working Group recommends that France:
- Pursue reforms underway to guarantee greater independence for prosecutors and provide adequate resources for investigations and prosecutions in corruption cases;
- Ensure that companies and their subsidiaries cannot avoid criminal liability;
- Clarify the existing law to ensure that it is not interpreted by prosecutors as imposing requirements that go beyond those of the Convention;
- Ensure that the implementation of the regime for defence secrecy does not impede investigations and prosecutions;
- Encourage reporting by French public officials of suspected foreign bribery cases to the Public Prosecutor’s Office by raising awareness of the obligation to report and of the protections guaranteed for whistleblowers.
The report also highlights the positive aspects of France’s efforts and welcomes, in particular, the reforms announced by the Minister of Justice with the aim of a greater impartiality of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. It also welcomes the work of two specialised agencies that should facilitate seizure and confiscation in future, along with efforts to prevent corruption and raise awareness. The report notes the 18 reimbursements requested since 2008 by the tax administration in implementation of the non-deductibility of bribes paid to foreign public officials. The Working Group congratulates France on the introduction of whistle-blower protection into the law, and sees this step as a potentially significant contribution to the detection and punishment of foreign bribery.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Russia and South Africa – adopted this report on France 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 France on pages 67 to 72, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of France’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. As with other Working Group members, France will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years on steps it has taken to implement the new recommendations. This report will also be made publicly available.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Patrick Moulette, Head of the OECD Anti-Corruption Division, e-mail Patrick.Moulette@oecd.org; (33) 1 45 24 91 02.
For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.