18/03/2021 – Foreign bribery enforcement is lacking in Slovenia, which has had no foreign bribery cases reach trial stage since 1999. Worrying allegations of political interference in law enforcement agencies tasked with investigating and prosecuting foreign bribery have been mounting in recent years, in particular in relation to the National Bureau of Investigation, the Slovenian agency responsible for investigating foreign bribery, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.
The 44-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Slovenia’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Group notes that no cases of foreign bribery have been detected by government agencies other than law enforcement authorities, including the FIU, the Financial Administration or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Although several investigations have been opened following media reports, there are serious concerns that media in Slovenia may currently not operate in an environment conducive to the independent reporting of potential foreign bribery allegations.
The Group made a range of recommendations to Slovenia to improve its capacity to combat foreign bribery, including to:
The Report also highlights positive developments, such as increased detection of suspected foreign bribery, notably by monitoring press reports and the opening of investigations based on media reporting; Slovenia’s strong legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers and its introduction of a beneficial ownership register. The Working Group also welcomed the adoption of long-awaited amendments to the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Furthermore, the Working Group will follow-up, among others, on the liability of legal persons for the foreign bribery offence in practice, the protections actually afforded to whistleblowers and the resources allocated to law enforcement authorities and the judiciary.
Slovenia’s Phase 4 report was adopted by the OECD Working Group on Bribery on 11 March 2021. The report, available here, lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Slovenia on pages 83-87, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Slovenia’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. Slovenia will submit a written follow-up report to the Working Group within one year (March 2022) on steps taken to ensure that the definition of foreign public officials is consistent with the Convention; to ensure the defence of effective regret does not apply in foreign bribery cases; and progress to ensure that investigations and prosecutions are not subject to considerations prohibited under Article 5 of the Convention. Within two years (March 2023), Slovenia will submit a written report to the Working Group on the implementation of all recommendations and its enforcement efforts. These follow-up reports will also be made publicly available.
The report is part of the OECD Working Group on Bribery’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 cooperation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports.
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