Company bosses often know of bribes to foreign public officials: OECD

Tue Dec 2, 2014 5:03am EST
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By Belinda Goldsmith

PARIS (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Company bosses are often aware that bribes are paid to public officials in foreign countries to win contracts and to cut through red tape, according to the OECD's first Foreign Bribery report released on Tuesday.

The report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development found corporate management was in the loop in over half of 427 enforcement actions taken since its Anti-Bribery Convention came into effect 15 years ago.

Its analysis of these actions found in 41 percent of cases management-level staff knew bribes were being paid and company chief executives were involved in 12 percent of cases.

Patrick Moulette, head of the OECD's anti-corruption division, said he hoped the report would shed light on where more effort could be made to end corruption as campaigners had been fighting in the dark to tackle this complex, covert crime.

"Most of the time the bribes are made with the knowledge of senior management which is surprising because in most cases of international bribery sanctions are imposed on second row employees," Moulette told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We need to get away from the idea that if you want to do business in foreign countries then you have to give bribes."

The report also questioned the notion that bribes were mostly paid to public officials in poor nations, finding that almost half of the cases, or 43 percent, involved bribery of officials in developed or highly developed countries.

But Moulette said more work was needed to check this trend as detection rates in developed countries could be higher due to stronger legislation to tackle corruption that erodes trust in governments, businesses, and markets, and undermines growth.   Continued...