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Combating Corruption

U.S. Leads Anti-Corruption Efforts at the OECD

President Obama has called the struggle against corruption “one of the great struggles of our time.” The costs of corruption are immeasurable – injustice, misallocation of resources, economic decay. Corruption affects a staggering number of livelihoods and lives and erodes the faith of citizens in their governments and in the rule of law.

For years, the United States has led the fight against corruption. In 1977, it passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, domestic legislation which prohibits Americans from bribing foreign officials. To level the playing field, the United States sought to create a “race to the top” by encouraging other OECD countries to adopt legislation similar to its own law. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention was signed in 1997 and took effect in 1999, becoming what Transparency International calls “the gold standard” in the fight against corruption.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is the first and only anti-corruption instrument that focuses on the “supply side” of the bribery equation. The convention currently boasts 38 signatories including all OECD member countries as well as non-members such as Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria and South Africa. Other non-members, like China and India, have taken steps to bring their rules and regulations closer to the OECD’s internationally-recognized standards.  Signatories bind themselves to criminalizing foreign bribery, monitoring enforcement and participating in a rigorous peer review process. All new members to the OECD are required to accede to the Anti-Bribery Convention.

U.S. anti-corruption efforts continue apace.  Recent milestones include:

  • Toolkits – The United States supports OECD adoption of a new Recommendation on Further Combating Bribery and the release of a Good Practice Guidance to help companies prevent and detect bribery and strengthen compliance programs.
  • Transparency – The  United States convinced the OECD to publish enforcement statistics on investigations and prosecutions of foreign bribery and encourages close monitoring.

Additional Anti-Corruption Work at the OECD:

Procurement: The United States has taken the lead in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) to develop specialized tools to track procurement and assess fiscal transparency.

Supply Chains: The OECD's pilot project for the mining sector will include practical guidance on managing supply chain risks for minerals from conflict zones and fragile states. During the Ministerial Council Meeting in May 2011, Ministers endorsed the updated Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which includes new recommendations for evaluating supply chains.

Tax Havens: The United States holds a seat in the Steering Committee of the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.  The Forum, created in conjunction with the G20 in 2000 and restructured in 2009, works to eliminate safe havens for proceeds of corruption. Its members strive to ensure that national laws allow for information sharing to combat tax evasion, bribery, money laundering, and terrorist financing. Six hundred tax agreements have been signed under its auspices.