Important OECD bribery review to take place in May

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will visit New Zealand in May to evaluate New Zealand’s compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.  

This visit will be Phase 4 of the evaluation of New Zealand by the OECD Working Group on Bribery. This forms part of the evaluation of New Zealand’s compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention with a particular focus on enforcement of foreign bribery offences (bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions), corporate liability for the offence, as well as good practices demonstrated in the fight against foreign bribery.

The Phase 3 evaluation report was published in 2013 with a follow up in 2016.

When the evaluation team visits New Zealand they will meet with a range of stakeholders including civil society, media, academia and business. TINZ will be an active participant.

TINZ will make a written submission as part of this process. We encourage members and supporters to do so as well. 

Key international mechanisms such as those provided by the OECD are effective means for encouraging improvements in policy and practice.

You can make a submission online through 19 April 2024. Information about participating in New Zealand’s evaluation is available here.

New Zealand needs to make improvements to be further resistant to bribery. We are lagging behind comparable countries in a number of important areas

Exporting Corruption 2022 -Transparency International’s summary of various countries’ compliance with the convention, including New Zealand - offers a solid perspective of the international situation. In March Gillian Dell the Global Advocacy Lead for Transparency International published a great blog post on the topic internationally: OECD Anti-Bribery Convention at 25: Time to step up enforcement.

Our main recommendations will focus on:

Judicial gaps: New Zealand has an inadequate definition of foreign bribery. New Zealand needs to introduce an offence of failure to prevent bribery such as included in the UK Bribery Act 2010; New Zealand should remove the “routine government action” (facilitation payments) exemption from Section 105C of the Crimes Act. In this regard New Zealand is an outlier worldwide. New Zealand should also remove the requirement of Attorney General consent to foreign bribery prosecutions. 

Beneficial Ownership: The beneficial ownership register needs to progress as planned.

Whistleblower protection: New Zealand should introduce clear and specific legislative protection for auditors (and others) who report suspicions of bribery to the relevant authorities.

There is no legal Victim rights and compensation framework recognising victims’ rights and victims’ compensation specifically in foreign bribery cases. The New Zealand government should look at the recommendations from the UNCAC Coalition working group on victims of corruption:

Investigation and prosecution - Non-trial resolutions. Guidelines are needed for the use of non-trial resolution settlements.  See the TI communication in 2016 and again in 2018 with its expectations on this.

Transparency: Better transparency is needed in data and case outcomes on bribery, There is also no known publication of non-trial resolutions and no indication that there have been any non-trial resolutions. There is minimal transparency of the assets held in the Proceeds of Crime fund or their source.

Strategy. The national crime and corruption strategy should include commitments on foreign bribery.

Investigation/Prosecution. There should be clear referral guidelines between agencies regarding foreign bribery - a more active enforcement mechanism is needed. Greater priority needs to be given to the investigation of foreign bribery and enforcement of Sections 105C, 105D and 105E of the Crimes Act.

TINZ's submission to the group on 19 April, after this article was initially published.

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