18/10/2022 - Italy has strengthened its legislation and shows a significant level of foreign bribery enforcement with the pace of enforcement increasing since 2011. But a high rate of dismissal in these cases puts at risk the commendable advances it has made, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. Dismissals occur partly because the totality of circumstantial evidence is not considered simultaneously. Onerous proof demanded of the corrupt agreement and of foreign law compounds the problem. To address these issues, Italy should introduce training and legislative amendments where recommended.
The 44-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Italy’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The report expresses concerns about Italy’s legislation for holding companies accountable for foreign bribery. Corporate fines are so low as to be unfit for purpose. The statute of limitations is much shorter for companies than for individuals. While Italy has commendably introduced whistleblower protection since Phase 3, protection in the public sector is not yet comprehensive; in the private sector it is even weaker.
In addition to the above recommendations on enforcement and corporate liability, the Working Group also recommends that Italy:
The report also notes positive developments. The creation of the 3rd Department in the Milan prosecutor’s office to tackle foreign bribery signals Italy’s commitment to implement the Convention and is a good practice that should be maintained. Substantial investment has been committed to digitise and modernise the judiciary; seeing through these efforts could allow Italy to finally reduce endemic delay in the justice system. Italy has made concerted efforts to strengthen its legal and policy framework for mutual legal assistance and extradition, as well as co-operation between tax and Italian law enforcement authorities. Italy has commendably promoted the Convention, significantly contributed to anti-corruption efforts in multiple international fora, and led capacity building programmes.
The Working Group adopted the report on Italy on 13 October 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 88-92 of the report contain the Working Group’s recommendations to Italy. Italy will report in writing by October 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 Italy’s work to fight corruption, please visit: https://www.oecd.org/corruption/italy-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm.
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