By Samuel Bankole
Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watch has called on all countries that are signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, as well as the other major global exporters to enforce sanctions against companies from their jurisdiction offering bride to win contracts in foreign countries.
The Anti-corruption watch said developed countries should also end secrecy in ownership of companies which acts as a barrier to the investigation of foreign firms involved in bribe for contracts.
The TI said they should also stop treating foreign bribery as a victimless crime and build in victims’ compensation into the enforcement process.
Such countries should strengthen laws and enforcement systems to handle complex international corruption cases and explore increased liability of parent companies for the actions of their subsidiaries to help prevent foreign bribery and related money laundering.
These are the recommendations of the TI in its latest report; Exporting Corruption 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The global anti-graft watch said that fewer of the world’s biggest exporters are actively investigating and punishing companies paying bribes abroad.
Transparency International said active enforcement against foreign bribery significantly decreased since 2018, noting that the share of global exports from countries that actively enforce against foreign bribery and related money laundering is down by more than a third.
Only four out of 47 countries, which make up 16.5 percent of global exports, actively enforced legislation against foreign bribery, compared to seven countries and 27 percent of global exports in 2018, the report Exporting Corruption 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention stated.
According to the report, the biggest global exporters with the worst track records are China, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, India and Mexico.
TI said most countries assessed (35 out of 47), conducted practically no enforcement of their foreign bribery laws.
“Money lost to foreign bribery wastes millions of dollars that could otherwise go to lifesaving services like health care,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International.
“Too many governments choose to turn a blind eye when their companies use bribery to win business in foreign markets. G20 countries and other major economies have a responsibility to enforce the rules,” the report said.
China, the world’s largest exporter, failed to open a single investigation into foreign bribery between 2016 and 2019, despite Chinese companies appearing in multiple scandals and investigations by other countries.
Two other non-OECD major exporters – Hong Kong and India – did not open a single foreign bribery investigation from 2016 to 2019. Singapore opened only one investigation and concluded one case with sanctions during the past four years.
The US, UK, Switzerland and Israel are the only countries assessed that continue to actively enforce against foreign bribery.
Improvers and decliners
Since 2018, four countries, accounting for 12.4 per cent of global exports, declined in performance, while six countries, accounting for 6.8 per cent of world exports, improved.
Germany, which is the third largest exporter (with 7.6 percent of global exports) pursued fewer investigations and closed fewer cases against graft overseas. Similarly, Italy, a top-10 exporter (2.6 percent), also declined, as did Norway.
Conversely, France and Spain, which account for 3.5 percent and two percent of global exports respectively, improved their performance.
“Despite big corruption cases involving companies like Airbus, Odebrecht, and many others, our research shows that many countries are barely investigating foreign bribery,” said Gillian Dell, Senior Advisor at Transparency International and lead author of the report.
“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for businesses in wealthy countries to export corruption to poorer countries, undermining institutions and development. And no country is immune.”