Worldwide enforcement against foreign bribery hits historic low

New Zealand needs to do more

The just released Transparency International (TI) Exporting Corruption 2022 report finds only two of 47 top exporting countries actively enforce against cross-border bribery. Countries’ enforcement against foreign bribery has dropped to its lowest level since this biennial report was first released in 2009.

Many of the world’s largest exporters fail to punish bribery in foreign markets.

The report finds New Zealand’s compliance level at “limited enforcement.” 

In the period 2018-2021, New Zealand opened three investigations, commenced no cases and concluded no cases.

“Foreign bribery is not an abstract phenomenon; it has huge consequences for both the payer and recipient. Money lost to foreign bribes creates significant economic repercussions, triggers unfair competitive advantages and results in fewer public services for the people who need them most. New Zealand needs to take action and demonstrate world leadership in the fight against corruption,“ says Julie Haggie, CEO of Transparency International New Zealand.

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted global economic activity, and undoubtedly impacted countries’ ability to meet their obligations to enforce against foreign bribery criminality – but the downward trend in enforcement began in 2018.

“We need to treat the threat of international corruption seriously. New Zealand’s excellent reputation coupled with lax enforcement of foreign bribery is a dangerous combination.,” says Anne Tolley, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand. Tolley adds “We don’t want organised crime and corrupt entities to see New Zealand as a soft target for legitimising their activities.”

Recommendations for New Zealand include: 

  • Establish comprehensive mechanisms to ensure transparency of New Zealand companies and trusts, including beneficial ownership information.
  • Improve availability of information on foreign bribery investigations   
  • Remove the facilitation payment exemption from the Crimes Act   
  • Further improve protection for whistleblowers and protection for auditors and others who report suspicions of bribery
  • Introduce an offence of failure to prevent bribery
  • Remove the requirement that the Attorney-General consent to foreign bribery prosecution
  • Develop and resource a more active enforcement mechanism
  • Create an independent anti-corruption agency, whose remit includes managing foreign bribery investigations

Follow this link for the Exporting Corruption 2022 Report

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