Bribery in international business

Statement of OECD Working Group on Bribery on Spain’s efforts to amend its Penal Code and to enforce its foreign bribery offence


12/06/2014 - The OECD Working Group on Bribery supports Spain’s efforts to further reform its Penal Code to bring its anti-bribery law into line with its international obligations under the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Working Group urges rapid introduction of new legislation to ensure that Spain individuals and companies, including State-owned enterprises, can be held liable for the offence of bribing foreign public officials. The Working Group noted Spain’s efforts in undertaking to have the related Bill passed into law by the end of 2014.


Current Spanish legislation provides separate offences for the bribery of foreign public officials and for the bribery of European officials, the latter containing serious deficiencies, identified since 2006, in particular with regard to the scope of the offence, the level of sanctions and the period of limitations. Spanish legislation also provides an exception to the criminal liability of certain State-owned enterprises.


The Working Group is encouraged by Spain’s recent efforts to investigate two alleged foreign bribery cases. However, it continues to have serious concerns over the extremely low level of Spain’s enforcement of its foreign bribery laws, with not a single prosecution out of only 9 investigations in almost 15 years since joining the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.


The Working Group hence reiterates that Spain must urgently strengthen its legal framework for fighting bribery by addressing the gaps in its Penal Code and vigorously pursue foreign bribery allegations. It warns that, absent significant progress in these two areas by December 2014, when Spain’s Written Follow-up evaluation is scheduled, it will consider further appropriate steps, including the possibility of a Phase 3bis or a High Level Mission to Spain.




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