26 May 2011

The Transparency International 2011 progress report on enforcement of the OECD Anti Bribery convention was published this week. As in previous years, New Zealand is placed in the bottom group of the 37 convention members who were assessed. (Iceland was absent from class.) This bottom group comprises countries that take little or no action to enforce provisions proscribing the bribery of foreign officials.

Overall the report shows no improvement in the commitment to promote compliance with the convention, indicating that only seven countries have active enforcement. The findings largely replicate the OECD Annual Report published in April. New Zealand falls below the standards of the Scandinavian countries with which we are often compared.

TI expresses “serious concern” that New Zealand has not aligned aspects of law to conform to the convention – primarily the inability to prosecute companies for bribery and for not enacting an offence of failing prevent bribery. As in previous reports, TI criticises New Zealand for neither extending the Protected Disclosures Act to cover the private sector, nor assuring whistleblowers of full confidentiality.

The TI report was published on the eve of a conference in Paris, “Joining Forces against Corruption – G20 Business and Government”. This is part of the OECD 50th Anniversary. Russia of course is part of the G8/G20. Ironically the OECD has today invited Russia to become a party to the Anti Bribery convention despite its reputation for decreasing ability to counter domestic corruption. It slipped from 146th in 2009 to 154th in 2010 on the Corruption Perceptions Index. President Medvedev claimed yesterday that 20% of Russia’s defence spending was stolen by “corrupt officials, dishonest generals and crooked contractors”.