OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Enforcement Update

In October The OECD Working Group on Bribery completed its report on New Zealand's implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. TI released Exporting corruption: Progress report 2013: assessing enforcement of the OECD Convention on combating bribery.

OECD Working Group Report

According to this report New Zealand must significantly increase its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery. Since joining the Convention over 12 years ago, New Zealand has not prosecuted any cases of foreign bribery and only four allegations have surfaced to date. Outdated perceptions that New Zealand individuals and companies do not bribe may have also undermined detection efforts.

Recommendations made by the Group to improve New Zealand's fight against foreign bribery, include:

  • Broadening the possibilities for holding companies liable for foreign bribery and ensuring they face significant sanctions for this crime;
  • Addressing gaps in the Crimes Act regarding the foreign bribery offence;
  • Strengthening New Zealand's capacity to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery through law enforcement training;
  • Raising greater awareness of the risks of foreign bribery and of channels for reporting allegations to law
  • Ensuring the non-tax deductibility of all bribe payments, including those paid through intermediaries.

Follow this link to the press release and a link to the report.

TI Country Report

This report finds there is a lack of awareness about anti-bribery legislation amongst New Zealand companies operating overseas, and insufficient awareness of the offence of foreign bribery amongst the New Zealand private sector and the general public.

The report placed New Zealand in the category of having "Little or No Enforcement" of the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention, which requires each signatory country to make the bribery of foreign public officials a crime.

The Report's key recommendations for New Zealand are to:

  • amend New Zealand's provisions on bribery and corruption offences generally to align them with international standards and substantially increase penalties for private sector bribery
  • ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), to show the country's commitment against foreign bribery
  • encourage the reporting of foreign bribery suspicions to the authorities
  • develop and implement a national anti-corruption strategy
  • and ensure adequate training and public awareness of foreign and domestic bribery risks

The full report is available at www.transparency.org with a copy available on the TINZ website.

Anti-Bribery Convention

The Convention is a collective agreement among major exporting countries which aims to crack down on the practice of bribing foreign officials - behaviour often undertaken in order to win contracts or dodge local regulations. The 40 signatory countries to the OECD Convention are responsible for approximately two-thirds of world exports. As such, the Convention is a key instrument for curbing the practice of foreign bribery on a global scale.

Exporting Corruption Progress Report 2013: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating Foreign Bribery evaluates the strength of government measures taken to enforce the Convention. The Convention is a collective agreement among major exporting countries which aims to crack down on the practice of bribing foreign officials - behaviour often undertaken in order to win contracts or dodge local regulations.

TINZ Notes

Our experience is that a great many assumptions have been made that New Zealand is, and always will be, uninvolved and untainted by corruption. Sadly, that is not the reality. For example, since the Report was prepared, the SFO now has two foreign-based bribery/corruption investigations underway.

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