07/07/2008 - Argentina should promptly establish effective liability and sanctions for companies for the offence of foreign bribery and significantly improve its capacity to investigate and prosecute the offence, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
The 37-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 2 review of Argentina’s implementation of the Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. While the Working Group notes that Argentina has engaged in significant efforts to implement the Convention, it is seriously concerned that there is still no liability of companies for bribery in Argentina despite the clear requirements of the Convention and the Working Group’s recommendation in Phase 1.
The Working Group is also seriously concerned about systemic deficiencies in the overall framework for the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery and related offences. This is in particular because of lengthy delays in getting to a decision due to, among other things, the applicable rules of procedural law. In addition, certain allegations of foreign bribery that appeared in the public domain in 2002 were not investigated until 2006.
In addition to the regular follow up process, the Working Group will conduct a supplementary Phase 1 bis review of Argentina one year from now to evaluate Argentina’s efforts to establish liability and sanctions for companies, and to adopt nationality jurisdiction for foreign bribery cases. The review will also report on the status of legal changes with regard to broad criminal procedure and institutional reform.
The main recommendations of the Working Group are that Argentina should take action to:
• Be more proactive in detecting, investigating and prosecuting cases of foreign bribery
• Enact laws to hold companies accountable in foreign bribery cases. Currently, prosecution and thus conviction of companies that engage in bribery is impossible because companies cannot be held liable for criminal offences
• Establish nationality jurisdiction over foreign bribery committed by Argentine nationals abroad
• Clarify that tax rules prohibit the deductibility of bribes to foreign public officials
The Working Group also highlights a number of positive aspects in Argentina's fight against foreign bribery including legislative amendments in 2003 to address concerns in the Working Group’s Phase 1 report and recent awareness raising activities for key public sector personnel, including foreign diplomatic personnel and tax inspectors.
The full report is available at http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/35/28/40975295.pdf, with the recommendations on pages 63-68.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Spencer Wilson of the OECD’s Media Relations Division on (33) 1 45 24 81 18.
For more information on OECD's work to fight corruption, visit www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption.