LONDON (TrustLaw) – Greece has failed to investigate major foreign bribery cases or provide timely information to visiting experts who were evaluating the country’s anti-bribery controls, a strongly worded report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said.
The report by the Paris-based organisation’s Working Group on Bribery is part of an evaluation of Greece’s implementation of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
Greece and 39 other countries have signed up to the convention and have agreed to be monitored by fellow signatories and OECD experts.
“The lead examiners note regrettably that they have not received sufficient information from the Greek authorities in a timely manner,” the report said.
“Consequently, they are unable to properly assess many of the important issues in this evaluation.”
Greek authorities were unable to provide English translations of much of the relevant anti-bribery legislation and examiners were forced to resort to seeking basic information from the internet, the report said.
“This may be explained by the on-going financial crisis in the country,” the report said.
Experts from the working group’s secretariat as well as lead examiners from Ireland and Korea, visited Greece between Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. But they will have to return to Greece at a later date because they were unable to assess many important issues, the report said.
Another area of concern for the working group was that the Greek authorities were not investigating foreign bribery cases involving Greeks.
“The lead examiners are extremely concerned that Greece may be non-compliant with Article 5 of the Convention in the Magyar Telekom case,” the report said.
“Despite learning in April 2010 that three individuals in Greece may have engaged in foreign bribery in the Magyar Telekom case, the Greek authorities had not opened an investigation by January 2012,” the report added.
Greece began an investigation into the case after the working group’s visit.
The report recommended that Greece investigate and prosecute all foreign bribery cases, remove duplicate anti-bribery provisions found in parts of Greek law, improve awareness of the foreign bribery offences and enact laws to protect whistleblowers.
However, the report was by no means entirely negative. Greece was praised for having made efforts to improve its anti-money laundering framework, for readily providing legal assistance to other countries in foreign bribery cases, and for enacting legislation to debar those convicted of foreign bribery from bidding on public contracts.