LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – China, India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia should sign up to the OECD's Anti-Bribery Convention if the fight to end bribery in international business transactions is to succeed, the head of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Monday.
Angel Gurria said those nations were the only members of the Group of 20 (G20) richest countries that had not joined the 1997 treaty which criminalises the paying of bribes to foreign public officials to win business deals.
“All major economic players must be part of the effort,” Gurria told a conference at the London-based international affairs think-tank Chatham House. “It is imperative that all G20 countries become parties to the OECD anti-bribery convention,” he added.
When the Anti-Bribery Convention was launched 17 years ago, its signatories represented 80 percent of world trade and investment flows. Today it represents about 60 percent. Should China, India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia join the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, its signatories would cover over 75 percent of global trade.
The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention has been described as “the gold standard” of anti-bribery conventions by watchdog Transparency International and includes a rigorous peer-led monitoring and evaluation process to ensure that each country is fulfilling its obligations under the convention.
The convention was the world’s first international anti-bribery convention and between 1999 and 2012, 221 individuals and 90 companies were sanctioned for foreign bribery in 13 countries, Gurria said.
In addition, there are currently 320 ongoing investigations into alleged acts of foreign bribery in 24 countries that are signatories to the convention, Gurria added.
However, only half of the convention’s signatories have ever successfully prosecuted an international bribery case, Gurria said, and he called for the leaders of the 41 signatories to the convention to “lead by example and to commit to full implementation and enforcement of the Convention.”
In addition to the OECD's 34 member countries, Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, South Africa, Russia, Latvia and Colombia have also joined the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.