Denmark must urgently step up its efforts to fight foreign bribery, says the OECD Working Group on Bribery


16/03/2023 - Denmark gives insufficient priority to preventing, detecting and sanctioning foreign bribery, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. This may be due to the widespread perception that domestic corruption is low in the country and a lack of awareness of the significant vulnerability of Danish companies to foreign bribery risks. Despite Denmark securing its first foreign bribery conviction, the report highlights growing concerns over the lack of resources allocated to fight foreign bribery and the impact on enforcement outcomes. Only one Danish company has been convicted of foreign bribery since 2000 and no individuals have ever been convicted. Detection sources are under exploited and some credible allegations, including those reported in the media, do not lead to formal investigations, or investigations are closed prematurely. The impact of the recent restructuring of Denmark’s law enforcement agencies remains to be seen.

The 44-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Denmark’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The report expresses concerns about Denmark’s efforts to implement the Convention and recommends that Denmark address longstanding deficiencies in its legal framework.

To increase Denmark’s capacity to prevent and combat foreign bribery, the Working Group made extensive recommendations, including that Denmark:

  • Develop a comprehensive national policy or strategy to fight foreign bribery;
  • Proactively detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery;
  • Clarify the legal basis for the small facilitation payment exception to the foreign bribery offence;
  • Adopt a clear and transparent framework for non-trial resolutions;
  • Increase sanctions for false accounting and foreign bribery-related money laundering offences;
  • Further raise awareness of foreign bribery and the Convention; and
  • Take proactive steps to extend the Convention to Greenland and the Faroe Islands.

The report also highlights positive achievements. Commendably, Denmark achieved its first foreign bribery conviction in 2019. A Danish company admitted to failing to prevent foreign bribery by its subsidiaries and was fined DKK 197 500 000 (USD 26.5 million). Denmark has also enhanced its anti-money laundering regime and reinforced protections for whistleblowers. Large Danish companies display a high level of awareness of foreign bribery risks and have robust anti-corruption compliance regimes. The Danish government, the private sector, and civil society have engaged in collective action to discourage small facilitation payments.

The Working Group adopted the Denmark Phase 4 Report on 9 March 2023. The report is part of the Working Group’s fourth monitoring phase of its members, 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, and covers unresolved issues from prior reports. The conclusion to the report contains the Working Group’s recommendations to Denmark. Denmark will report to the Working Group in March 2024 on its implementation of key recommendations and in March 2025 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 Denmark’s work to fight corruption, please visit:


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