Turkey told to crack down on foreign bribery

23 October 2014

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has urged Turkey to crack down on foreign bribery and warned it is “insufficiently proactive” in its enforcement efforts.

The Working Group on Bribery declared it was “seriously concerned” about the country’s low levels of detection and investigation of foreign bribery in its Phase 3 Report on Turkey’s implementation of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Despite improvements to the legal framework, the group found that not one foreign bribery conviction had been made in the 11 years since Turkey’s entry into the Convention, despite the size of its economy and its geopolitical importance. Of the 10 allegations of foreign bribery that have emerged since 2003, only six underwent “limited investigative steps”, three of which were closed, the report claimed.

The findings also revealed that Turkey had not investigated in two cases and was “unaware of a further two allegations” despite them being “publicised in both Turkish and foreign news”.

The Working Group, which is made up of 34 OECD member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Columbia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa, recommended that Turkey:

• Significantly increase efforts to proactively detect and investigate foreign bribery allegations
• Enforce its foreign bribery offence guidelines against companies, notably by fixing deficiencies in its corporate liability framework
• Maintain the independence of prosecutors and ensure that concerns of a political nature do not affect foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions
• Provide law enforcement with adequate resources and expertise to enforce foreign bribery laws
 • Better protect whistleblowers in both the public and private sector to encourage reporting of foreign bribery.

It advised Turkey to report back on key recommendations within one year. The group did, however, acknowledge legislative progress made by the country in strengthening its foreign bribery offence. It also recognised that public procurement rules had been modified to “prohibit natural and legal persons convicted of foreign bribery from participating in public tenders”.

Meanwhile, the OECD expressed concerns over France’s “limited efforts” to comply with the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials.

The Working Group claimed the country had not implemented a significant number of the 33 recommendations made following a comprehensive review in October 2012. This was despite French authorities committing at the time, through a statement by the Minister of Justice, to adopting other measures including decisive changes to their criminal policy.

“Reforms which would have given public prosecutors the necessary statutory guarantees to exercise their functions without undue political influence which is required for the proper administration of justice, did not materialise,” the OECD said in a statement.

“Furthermore, no reform in this respect is currently under consideration.” It said reforms to ensure that the law on defence secrecy and the so-called blocking statute do not create an obstacle to investigations and prosecutions in foreign bribery cases had not been put in place. “In addition, there are still no amendments to the statute of limitations and no criminalisation of trading influence directed towards a foreign public official,” the working group added.

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