26 June 2009 | Jake Kanter
The UK still has an "unimpressive" record on enforcing bribery rules, according to Transparency International (TI).
The fraud watchdog said the country must "raise its game" if it is going to deter companies from using bribes to win contracts overseas.
The UK currently has 20 on-going investigations into foreign bribery, which TI said was "extremely low" compared with other G7 countries, such as the US. However, it rated the UK's enforcement of OECD rules on foreign bribery as "moderately active", putting shortcomings down to "antiquated UK laws" and difficulties prosecuting firms embroiled in corruption abroad.
Speaking at the European Forum on Anti-Corruption in London earlier this week, justice secretary Jack Straw [pictured] said corrupt practices "destroy personal reputations and distort competition". He acknowledged the UK's bribery laws were "old and anachronistic" and said the argument for reform was "compelling".
Straw added the government is developing a strong new Bribery Bill, encouraging "transparency and accountability" in international business transactions. Under April's draft Bribery Bill, UK companies will be at increased risk of prosecution if they neglect to prevent foreign bribery (News, 2 April).
Chandrashekhar Krishnan, executive director of TI-
UK said in a statement: "If the UK is to play its part in sustaining the [OECD] Convention, the draft Bribery Bill - currently undergoing parliamentary scrutiny - must become law as a matter of urgency."