Better cooperation between countries is fueling a surge in prosecutions for corruption conducted overseas.
Laws banning corruption overseas have been around in the West for a couple decades (the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act passed in 1977). Currently, a ban on bribing governments overseas is a solid international norm — the Global Integrity Report has found that bribing foreign governments is illegal nearly everywhere we’ve looked. Enforcement, of course, is another matter.
But progress is being made. In 1997 the OECD passed international guidelines to streamline cooperation in bribery cases.
It took time for the convention to make an impact, as signatory countries moved slowly to adopt antibribery laws and investigators dragged their feet developing relationships with foreign counterparts.
More recently, working ties between prosecutors in different nations have been expanding. In a meeting in Paris this summer, antibribery prosecutors from several countries gathered for the first time in an informal, roll-up-your-sleeves meeting, according to lawyers briefed on the meeting. There they discussed ongoing investigations and strengthened collaboration.
(The full Journal article is worth a read).
The result has been a recent uptick in corruption investigations, with aggressive prosecutions and penalties that should put real fear into litigation-wary investors. Business as usual has been redefined.
Our hats off to the OECD for making this a policy priority for the last decade.
— Lacy Clark and Jonathan Werve
— image via Wall Street Journal