Enforcement against foreign bribery ‘shockingly low’

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Press release

A new report, Exporting Corruption 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, finds that active international enforcement against foreign bribery is shockingly low. Many of the World’s largest exporting countries fail to punish bribery in foreign markets.

“Although domestic corruption in New Zealand appears low, we really need to lift our game in the way we respond to the threat of international corruption,” says Professor John Hopkins, the lead New Zealand author, on behalf of Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ).

“The combination of an excellent reputation coupled with lax enforcement of foreign bribery is an extremely dangerous one. Organised crime and corrupt entities may see New Zealand a soft target for legitimising their activities.”

Recommendations for New Zealand include:

  • Improve availability of statistics and information on investigations, mutual legal assistance requests and cases in relation to foreign bribery
  • Develop central registers (new or existing) to ensure public accessibility of beneficial ownership information for all New Zealand companies and trusts
  • Remove the “routine government action” (facilitation payment) exemption from Section 105C of the Crimes Act
  • Introduce clear and specific legislative protection for auditors (and others) who report suspicions of bribery to the relevant authorities
  • Improve protection for whistleblowers by strengthening the provisions in the Protected Disclosures Act, and other legislative amendments (e.g. extension of auditor protection under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2015 to include foreign bribery)
  • Introduce a positive requirement for commercial organisations to prevent foreign bribery by introduction of an offence of failure to prevent bribery (see The UK Bribery Act 2010, s7)
  • Give greater priority and resources to the proactive investigation of foreign bribery to assess its extent in New Zealand
  • Consider creating an independent anti-corruption agency, whose remit includes managing foreign bribery investigations
  • Remove the requirement that the Attorney-General consent to foreign bribery prosecutions

“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,” says Julie Haggie, CEO of Transparency International New Zealand.

“New Zealand needs to take action and demonstrate world leadership in the fight against corruption.”

Join Transparency International New Zealand, Transparency International Australia and the Transparency International secretariat on 15 October to discuss foreign bribery and the Exporting Corruption Report. Click for webinar details and to register.

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