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A new report has revealed that only a small portion of global leading exporters are actively carrying out investigations and punishing companies paying bribes in foreign markets. The report by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International shows that only four of 47 countries are actively taking action to end foreign bribery.
As of 2019, only the U.S., U.K., Switzerland, and Israel, making up 16.5% of global exports were enforcing legislation against bribery actively.
The report titled Exporting Corruption 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, shows that 34 out of the 47 countries carried out no enforcement of their foreign bribery laws. China, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, India, and Mexico were singled out as the worst performers.
The countries did not make a single investigation into foreign bribery between 2016 and 2019. Notably, China is the world-leading exporter and its companies have been involved in multiple scandals.
Foreign bribery mostly exported to poor countries
Since 2018, only four countries (12.4%) of global exports, declined in performance. On the other hand, only six countries, accounting for 6.8% of world exports, improved.
Gillian Dell, the lead author of the Transparency report notes that:
“Our research shows that many countries are barely investigating foreign bribery. Unfortunately, it’s all too common for businesses in wealthy countries to export corruption to poorer countries, undermining institutions, and development.”
The report acknowledges the existence of key legal milestones in curbing foreign bribery from a legal perspective. Despite existing legislation, it is not clear if bribing foreign public officials is illegal.
To end the vice, TI recommends ending secrecy in ownership of companies. The organization notes that the secrecy makes it difficult to investigate foreign bribery. The Berlin-based organization adds that there is a need for exploring increased liability of parent companies. TI argues the move will help prevent foreign bribery and related money laundering practices.