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New Zealand not immune from foreign bribery, says OECD

 

17/10/2013 - New Zealand must significantly increase its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery. Since joining the Convention over 12 years ago, New Zealand has not prosecuted any cases of foreign bribery and only four allegations have surfaced to date. Outdated perceptions that New Zealand individuals and companies do not bribe may have also undermined detection efforts.  

 

The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on New Zealand’s implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. Recommendations made by the Group to improve New Zealand’s fight against foreign bribery, include:

 

  • Broadening the possibilities for holding companies liable for foreign bribery and ensuring they face significant sanctions for this crime;
  • Addressing gaps in the Crimes Act regarding the foreign bribery offence;
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s capacity to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery through law enforcement training;
  • Raising greater awareness of the risks of foreign bribery and of channels for reporting allegations to law enforcement; and
  • Ensuring the non-tax deductibility of all bribe payments, including those paid through intermediaries.

 

The report also highlighted positive aspects of New Zealand’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. New Zealand has broadened the range of confiscation tools under its legislation and assets derived from foreign bribery can now be confiscated by the new Police Asset Recovery Unit without waiting for the outcome of criminal proceedings. It has also adopted a comprehensive whistleblower protection law and made efforts to encourage and facilitate whistleblowing. Steps have also been taken to review the framework for mutual legal assistance to ensure requests for information from foreign countries are effectively addressed.

 

The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa – adopted New Zealand’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

 

The Report, available here, lists all of the recommendations of the Working Group to New Zealand on pages 45 - 50, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of New Zealand’s framework for fighting foreign bribery.  The Working Group invited New Zealand to submit a written report in six months on progress made in establishing the liability of legal persons for foreign bribery and every six months thereafter, if needed. As with other Working Group members, New Zealand 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 Mary Crane-Charef, OECD Anti-Corruption Division Communications Coordinator, 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.