18/01/2007 - OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría stressed the important role of governments in preserving the credibility and integrity of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, at the session of the OECD Working Group on Bribery held in Paris on 16-18 January 2007.
The credibility of the Convention depends on its implementation and enforcement by the countries that are signatories to it, Mr. Gurría made clear. “The political will of our members, collectively and individually, is of very critical importance…I am gratified that the OECD provides a forum where we can have a full and frank exchange of views on these issues,” he told delegates.
In the context of its regular exchange of views on recent developments, the Working Group engaged in discussions regarding the recent discontinuation by the United Kingdom of a major foreign bribery investigation concerning BAE SYSTEMS plc and the Al Yamamah defence contract with the government of Saudi Arabia. The Working Group appreciates the efforts of the United Kingdom authorities to explain the decision to other members of the Convention.
The Working Group has serious concerns as to whether the decision was consistent with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and will discuss further the issue in March 2007, in the context of the United Kingdom written report on its implementation of recommendations set out in the 2005 Phase 2 examination report on its enforcement and application in practice of the OECD Convention. The Working Group will then consider appropriate action.
In the context of the discussion to be held in March, the Working Group would make reference to two particular recommendations in its 2005 report on the application of the Convention by the United Kingdom. These recommendations concern “the performance of the SFO and other relevant agencies with regard to foreign bribery allegations…including in particular with regard to decisions not to open or to discontinue an investigation” (paragraph 254 a.) and amendments that would “ensure that the investigation and prosecution of bribery of foreign public officials shall not be influenced by considerations of national economic interest, the potential effect upon relations with another state or the identity of the natural or legal persons involved” (paragraph 255 a.) as prescribed by Article 5 of the Convention. The entire report is available at www.oecd.org/corruption.
All 30 OECD countries and six others -- Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Estonia and Slovenia -- are signatories to the Convention, which outlaws bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.
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