We recently reported that there is a new tough tone from the top at the Serious Fraud Office ("SFO"), and there is even more bad news to report, for those involved in the business of bribery, following the publication of Transparency International's latest report entitled Exporting Corruption? Country Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention Progress Report 2012.
The report considers the enforcement of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Anti-Bribery convention, "OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions". This convention, which was adopted in 1997, requires that foreign bribery be made into a crime. It is a highly significant Convention, as the 39 signatory countries are responsible for two-thirds of world exports and 75% of foreign investment.
The United Kingdom has been categorised as an 'active enforcer' of the Bribery Convention, and is one of only 7 countries to be given this classification. Of the 37 signatory countries included in the report, (which does not cover Russia and Iceland) 30 fail to show adequate deterrence and fall within the categories of, "moderate enforcement", "little enforcement" and "no enforcement". Being in the top 20% of the enforcers of bribery is a welcome accolade for those charged with the task of tackling bribery.
The number of cases in the UK has increased by 17 in 2011 to a total of 23 cases in 2011/2012. This is only surpassed, in the active enforcement category, by the United States, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. Three of the UK cases were resolved in 2011 and included 2 cases involving Iraq, and another relating to the provision of educational supplies in Sudan. The United Kingdom also had 29 investigations in 2011, an increase of 3 from 2010, which was only surpassed in this category by the number of investigations in the United States and in Germany. The UK is therefore one of the biggest active enforcers against bribery and corruption in the world and this is an upward trend.
The OECD previously recognised that the efforts of the UK, while good, have scope for improvement (which were commented on here) and, in their report, Transparency International has also recognised that UK's performance in anti-bribery deterrence and enforcement could be further enhanced by consideration of other means of prosecution.
Those in the enforcement agencies of the Scottish Crown Office and the SFO elsewhere in the UK will doubtlessly pay attention to this report and recognise that there is more to be done. Commentators on the Bribery Act are still waiting for the first large scale conviction under the Bribery Act to show those within the UK, and the international community that bribery will not be tolerated by UK Plc and those caught carrying out such behaviour will receive the full force of the law.