Sweden’s Laws on Corporate Responsibility for International Bribery need Urgent Reform


25/10/2017 - Sweden has still not implemented reforms to its Penal Code initially recommended by the OECD Working Group on Bribery in June 2012. Sweden’s legal provisions on corporate liability do not meet the requirements of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. As a result, the Working Group is concerned about how effectively Sweden is able to investigate and sanction companies that bribe foreign public officials to obtain advantages in international business, such as foreign government procurement contracts in the building, transportation and information technology sectors.


Currently, Sweden’s maximum fine for corporations that engage in international bribery is only 10 million Swedish Krona (approximately 1.2 million Euros), an amount considered inadequate by the Working Group, in view of the size of the Swedish economy, sectors of business activity, and trade and investment partners. The Working Group is concerned that in practice companies may not be held liable for foreign bribery unless individuals are prosecuted and convicted. This practice is not always appropriate, such as when the individuals have absconded or died. The Working Group stresses its recommendation that Sweden ensure that companies can be held responsible for international bribery committed by employees under the direction or authorisation of senior managers, or when senior managers fail to prevent employees from bribing.  The current law also contains potential loopholes that could enable Swedish companies to avoid liability by using foreign nationals to engage in bribery.


In May 2015, a Committee of Inquiry was established to conduct inquiries on the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s recommendations. The Report of the Government Committee was submitted in November 2016, and has been subject to a mandatory referral process involving numerous stakeholders, including the public and private sectors, and civil society. The submissions are currently being analysed.


Sweden will report back to the Working Group in December 2017 regarding progress with the recommended legal reforms, at which time the Group could recommend further measures in the absence of significant progress.


For further information, journalists are invited to contact Daisy Pelham of the OECD Anti-Corruption Division ([email protected]; +33 (0)1 45 24 90 81).


For more information on the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Sweden, please visit:


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