Monday, October 25, 2010

High Marks for Mounting U.S. Foreign Anti-Bribery Efforts -Part 1 of a 5-Part Series

Guest Blogger - T. Markus Funk

On October 21, 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued its much-anticipated "Phase 3" report. This weighty report formally grades the U.S.'s constantly constricting anti-bribery enforcement noose, concluding that U.S. efforts provide a model other nations seeking to similarly fortify their anti-corruption efforts should emulate.

The OECD points its shaming finger at signatory nations not living up to their anti-bribery obligations, and the organization in its report also identifies certain discrete areas for U.S. improvement. But the deep-dive assessment's bottom-line message is that the U.S. government is out in front – way out front – in its all-out offensive against foreign bribery. And the U.S. is not waiting for others to catch up.

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention: The World's Leading Anti-Bribery Instrument

By way of some background, the historic 1997 OECD "Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions," adopted by 38 countries, announces standards criminalizing foreign bribery. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, in fact, remains the only such international anti-corruption instrument.

In an effort to encourage compliance, the highly-regarded OECD peer-reviewed Working Group on Bribery Monitoring carefully, and publicly, scrutinizes signatories’ performance. The Working Group, in so doing, takes a holistic approach, collecting input not only from the subject signatory governments, but also from representatives of the private sector and civil society. The end-product is an all-things-considered written assessment which enjoys the high regard of the broader international legal and political community.

In terms of procedure, OECD evaluations take place in phases: Phase 1 evaluates the adequacy of a country’s legislation to implement the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and Phase 2 assesses whether a country is applying this legislation effectively. Phase 3 then focuses on enforcement of the Convention, the 2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation, and any earlier recommendations that remain outstanding. An evaluation for good reason feared by many signatory nations, the OECD Phase 3 probing U.S. compliance with the Anti-Bribery Convention will undoubtedly receive a warm, appreciative reception in the Nation's capitol.

For the full text of the OECD Phase 3 report: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/10/49/46213841.pdf

The corresponding USDOJ press release can be found at http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/1020

By T. Markus Funk (mfunk@perkinscoie.com). Markus is a partner in Perkins Coie's Investigations and White Collar Defense Group. Markus spent the past 10 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago, Illinois, most recently serving in U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's Public Corruption and Organized Crime Section. Markus' full bio is at www.perkinscoie.com/mfunk

(tmf)

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