The International Bar Association (IBA) said about half the world’s lawyers haven’t heard of the FCPA. Seventy percent are unaware of the U.K. Bribery Act, and four in ten don’t know about the OECD and U.N. anti-corruption conventions.
The IBA — a group of 40,000 lawyers and about 200 bar associations and law societies around the globe — surveyed 642 legal professionals in 95 jurisdictions. It worked with the OECD and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to learn what lawyers think about the risks of corruption and the tools available to fight it.
The majority of respondents selected “none of the above,” even in developed economies, when asked about anti-corruption tools such as the OECD convention, the FCPA, and the Bribery Act. More than 40 percent of respondents in developed countries such as Denmark, Germany, Canada, and Japan were not familiar with any instrument, a result that increased to more than 70 percent for participants in New Zealand and Hong Kong.
The results varied by region but showed:
- Younger respondents (aged 20 to 30) were, on average, less aware of international anti-corruption laws and national legislation than older respondents.
- Only 43 percent of respondents recognised that their bar associations provide some kind of anti-corruption guidance for legal practitioners. Of these, only a third said that such guidance specifically addresses the issue of international corruption.
- Less than 40 percent of respondents said anti-corruption was a priority at their law firm and just under a third said that their firms do not have a clear and specific anti-corruption policy.
- More than two-thirds of respondents said their law firms had not been subject to anti-corruption or anti-money laundering due diligence conducted by foreign clients.
Over half the lawyers surveyed said corruption is an issue in the legal profession in their own country. More than one in five, according to the IBA, said they’d been approached to take part in what they believed could be a corrupt transaction. And, one in three said they had lost business to corrupt law firms or individuals.
“The survey results are disappointing, so we need to do more to raise awareness of these instruments,” said Nicola Bonucci, Director for Legal Affairs at the OECD.
The complete survey can be downloaded here.