The OECD recently published a resources booklet for the fourth round of country monitoring under the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
While the format of the evaluations will be seemingly the same as in the prior round, the content will have a more topical axis, the main purpose being to focus on three horizontal issues: detection of the foreign bribery offense, enforcement, and liability of legal persons.
This new axis shows that countries Parties to the OECD Convention have come a long way since its signature in 1997. Under the peer-review monitoring process led by the Working Group on Bribery, previous evaluation rounds focused on domestic legislation and institutional framework. Phases 1 and 2 evaluated the adequacy and effective application of Parties’ legislations, while Phase 3 assessed the enforcement of laws implementing the Convention. With this new Phase, the Working Group is shifting its focus to key topics that will help taking the fight against foreign bribery to the next level.
Another important feature that results from this new approach is the choice to conduct tailor-based evaluations and issue shorter reports than in the previous phase. In particular, the material explains that the “fourth phase of the peer evaluation […] will strive to identify the unique challenges and achievements of the evaluated country in addressing challenges in a way that is suitable and feasible within its legal system.”
By measuring counties’ achievements, the Working Group hopes to identify good practices that could be shared with the group and maybe inspire reforms in other parties to the OECD Convention. The material also shows that the Working Group will look at how countries engage with the private sector on issues relating to the Convention.
The topic was already part of a consultation launched in preparation of Phase 4, in which the Working Group asked participants “what would be the most beneficial and practical way for the private sector and civil society engagement in this next round of monitoring?” This effort to engage other important stakeholders probably reflects the WGB’s ambition to join forces and lead a united fight against foreign bribery.
Having said all that, the Working Group will continue to monitor countries’ progress on specific issues that were unveiled during previous evaluations. While the impact of the OECD Convention, after nearly 20 years of existence, is very positive, efforts remain uneven among Parties. The OECD Foreign Bribery Report of 2014 informed that to that date, only 17 countries out of the 41 parties had successfully “concluded a foreign bribery case in their jurisdiction.”
Even though the Working Group is adjusting the content of the country evaluation to the current landscape, ensuring that none of them falls behind on its obligation under the Convention seems to remain a priority.
The schedule for Phase 4 evaluations was established to start in March 2017 with Finland and the United Kingdom, and end in 2024. The Phase 4 material can be consulted here.
Elisabeth Danon is a Senior Adviser at the Montreal office of KPMG. She previously worked at the Anti-corruption Division of the OECD, and more recently at the World Bank as a legal analyst. She can be contacted here.