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Combating Corruption

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

President Obama has called the fight 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. The United States views corruption as a growing threat to the national security of our country and allies around the world.

For years, the United States has led the fight against international bribery. In 1977, it passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, domestic legislation which prohibits Americans and other persons and businesses that fall under the jurisdiction of the law from bribing foreign officials in order to obtain or retain business. To level the playing field, the United States sought to create a “race to the top” by encouraging other OECD countries to criminalize such bribery. The 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. In 2009, on the 10th anniversary of the Convention’s entry into force, the OECD Council adopted the “Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials” (PDF 187 KB) and released “Good Practice Guidance” (PDF 118 KB) to enhance the prevention and detection of foreign bribery and strengthen company compliance programs.

The Anti-Bribery Convention is the first and only anti-bribery instrument that focuses only on the “supply side” of the bribery equation. The Convention currently has 41 Parties including all OECD member countries as well as Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa. Parties are obligated to enact laws criminalizing foreign bribery and participate in a rigorous peer review process.

The Working Group’s accomplishments include:

  • All Parties have now passed foreign bribery laws, and most have now established corporate liability under their legal systems.
  • Encouraging the UK to pass a strong new anti-bribery law;
  • Agreement from the Parties to hold regular prosecutors meetings on the margins of Working Group meetings
  • The publication of tough peer-reviewed reports of what countries are doing or need to do to crack down on bribery

Additional Anti-Corruption Work at the OECD

MNE Guidelines:  The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) are a comprehensive set of government-backed recommendations for responsible business conduct.  They provide voluntary principles and standards in a number of areas, including combatting bribery and due diligence in supply chains.

Procurement and Public Sector Integrity: The OECD has adopted a several other recommendations to enhance integrity and prevent corruption in public governance. 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.

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.

In March 2016, the OECD convened a Ministerial Meeting on the Anti-Bribery Convention to launch a new era of enforcement.  Attorney General Lynch led the U.S. delegation and described U.S. successes in combatting bribery.  The Ministerial Declaration can be found here. (PDF 295 KB)