With the adoption of Sultani Decree 41/2016, the Sultanate of Oman ratified the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (the Convention).
The core obligation of the Convention requires Oman to make it a criminal offence for any person to intentionally bribe a foreign public official. Inciting, aiding, abetting and authorising an act of bribery of a foreign official are also to become criminal offences, as are attempting to and conspiring to bribe a foreign official. Effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties must be imposed and rules for seizure and confiscation of the relevant bribes must also be introduced. While the primary criminal liability is imposed on individuals, legal persons such as companies are also to be liable.
Bribery of foreign officials is to be an offence under Oman law wherever the offence is committed in whole or in part in Oman, and Omani nationals will also be liable for offences committed abroad.
Oman's anti-money laundering legislation will also apply to funds involved in bribery of a foreign official. Civil, administrative or criminal penalties must be imposed for omissions or falsification of companies' books, records, accounts and financial statements. Further, bribery of a public official will become an extraditable offence.
At the same time a number of connected recommendations have been adopted which could result in obligations on companies relating to external audit, internal controls, ethics and compliance programmes, in line with good practice guidelines. Companies are to be encouraged to make statements in their annual reports or otherwise publicly disclose their internal controls, ethics and compliance programmes and other measures for the purpose of preventing and detecting foreign bribery. They should also create monitoring bodies that are independent of management, such as audit committees of boards of directors. Channels for communication are to be provided for employees who wish to report breaches of the law, professional standards or ethics, and protection should be provided for those individuals.
Government authorities should be able to suspend companies that have bribed foreign public officials from competing for public contracts or other public advantages.
Combined with other recent changes in the laws relating to corruption and money laundering, the ratification of the Convention generally points to the importance of companies ensuring that they have clear and up-to-date policies, procedures and structures in place to combat these risks, and that they have sufficiently frequent reviews.