15/12/2022 - Poland needs to urgently address serious deficiencies in its fight against foreign bribery that have been highlighted by the OECD Working Group on Bribery since 2007. Not a single company has ever been investigated or prosecuted for foreign bribery. For individuals, a 2012 conviction remains the only successful prosecution to date. Certain allegations, including those reported in the media, have not been thoroughly investigated or acted upon at all. If applied, the provision allowing the briber to disclose all the substantive circumstances of the crime leaves them unpunished. Protection of whistleblowers is not comprehensive.
The 44-country Working Group has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Poland’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. In addition to the issues described above, the report expresses serious concerns about judicial and prosecutorial independence in Poland. Many features of Poland’s Public Prosecutor’s Office are fundamentally incompatible with the principle of prosecutorial independence. Allowing parliament to elect the judges on the National Council of Judiciary leaves the latter and the judiciary as a whole vulnerable to potential political and executive influence. The judiciary’s exposure to potential executive influence is increased with the Minister of Justice’s expanded role in appointing, disciplining and dismissing judges and court presidents. The longstanding system for seconding judges and prosecutors should be shielded from political and executive influence.
The Working Group has accordingly recommended that Poland:
The report also notes positive developments. The Central Anti-Corruption Bureau is an active and well-known institution in fighting corruption. Going forward, it can play an important role in fighting foreign bribery if its responsibilities are extended. The General Inspector of Financial Information, the financial intelligence unit, has good working relations with its stakeholders. A legislative amendment has reduced the number of jail sentences that are eligible for suspension. Non-trial resolutions are available in foreign bribery cases. The framework for public procurement debarment as a sanction for foreign bribery is largely sound. The statute of limitations against natural persons for investigating and prosecuting foreign bribery appears adequate. A Central Register of Actual Beneficiaries is well-known and is used by government authorities and the private sector alike.
The Working Group adopted the report on Poland on 8 December 2022. The report is part of the Working Group’s fourth phase of monitoring, launched in 2016. Phase 4 looks at the evaluated country’s particular challenges and positive achievements. It also explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international co-operation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports. Pages 60-66 of the report contain the Working Group’s recommendations to Poland. Poland will report to the Working Group in December 2023 on its implementation of key recommendations, and in December 2024 on all recommendations and its enforcement efforts.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Amelia Godber, Communications Officer, OECD Anti-Corruption Division (+33 (0)1 45 24 85 75). For more information on Poland’s work to fight corruption, please visit: https://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/poland-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm.
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