Monday, April 4, 2005
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) issued a very negative report on March 18 (available here) about the efforts made by the United Kingdom to implement the 1997 Convention on Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (here). The Convention, which the U.S. had sought for a number of years to globalize the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), has been widely adopted by the major industrialized nations, but the UK at least has not done much since ratifying it in 1998. In addition to not adopting legislation to implement the Convention -- even the U.S. updated the FCPA to conform to the Convention -- the report notes that "given the size of the UK economy and its level of exports and outward FDI, along with its involvement in international business transactions in sectors and countries that are at high risk for corruption, it is surprising that no company or individual has been indicted or tried for the offence of bribing a foreign public official since the ratification of the Convention by the UK."
An article in The Observer (here) notes that the Department of Trade and Industry does not intend to change the way it investigates corruption allegations or seek additional funds to investigate bribery of foreign officials in connnection with overseas business transactions. The article does note that the Serious Fraud Office is investigating BAE Systems for possible bribes, but that appears to be the only significant investigation. While the number of FCPA cases is not large, they are investigated and filed with some regularity in the U.S., and it's surprising that an economy as large as Great Britain's has not seen one case in since the adoption of the Convention. (ph)