20 March 2012

Corruption Currents, a daily blog published by the the Wall Street Journal features an undiminishing column of major corruption incidents around the world. Expanding enforcement capacity in most jurisdictions doesn’t seem to be matching the challenges!
A comment by the OECD Secretary General to the 10th conference of the International Bar Association’s Anti Bribery Committee last week lends weight to this prospect. The OECD which championed the Convention against the Bribery of Foreign Officials, has successively set up additional resources as, hydra-like, other modes of criminality emerge. It is now committed to the Tax and Crime Oslo Dialogue, the Financial Action Taskforce and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of information.
The OECD coordinates tools, techniques and best practices for its 39 Member states and sets implementation obligations that are periodically evaluated. Russia, which signed up in February, is the latest Member to accede to the Anti Bribery Convention. But corruption schemes are increasingly more complex.  The response needs to be beefed up.
A criticism is the reluctance of more than half of the coonvention member states to initiate prosecutions where circumstances indicate that there has been suborning of foreign officials. ( An intereting debate at the IBA conference was about the status of a Finnish postal worker.  Under the Anti Bribery Convention, employees in a fully commercial state organisation are not regarded as officials.  Finland’s postal service is a commercial business, but in the far north its services are highly uncompetitive and comprise a social service. Would  making a payment to such a postman be proscribed under the Convention?)
In his address to the IBA, the Secretary General referred to a new global economic governance architecture for fighting corruption. He referred to the IBA as a partner in the struggle to strengthen the rule of law. He said that the Working Group on bribery “is soon expected to be elevated within the OECD structure”. This has not been forecast on the Anti Bribery Convention website.