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  • Anti-Bribery I Risk I Compliance Management

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention 2021

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and provides a host of related measures to make this effective. It is the first and only international anti-corruption instrument focused on the “supply-side” of the bribery transaction. The 2021 Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions complements the Anti-Bribery Convention to strengthen further and support its implementation.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery – which brings together the 44 countries Party to the Anti-Bribery Convention – is responsible for monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Bribery Convention and Recommendation. In 2018, the Working Group decided to conduct an extensive review of the 2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation to ensure it continues to reflect the range of good practices, trends and challenges that have emerged in the foreign bribery field over the past 10 years. After a rigorous process, including two rounds of extensive consultations with external partners, a stocktaking of ten years of implementation of the 2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation, multiple written procedures and eight dedicated meetings of the Working Group, the 2021 Anti-Bribery Recommendation was adopted by the OECD Council on 26 November 2021.

With this Recommendation, the Parties to the Anti-Bribery Convention agree to new measures to reinforce their efforts to prevent, detect and investigate foreign bribery. In addition to enhancing the provisions already included in the 2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation, the 2021 Recommendation includes sections on critical topics that have emerged or significantly evolved in the anti-corruption area, including, among other things, on strengthening enforcement of foreign bribery laws, addressing the demand side of foreign bribery, enhancing international co-operation, introducing principles on the use of non-trial resolutions in foreign bribery cases, incentivising anti-corruption compliance by companies, and providing comprehensive and effective protection for reporting persons. 

One of five OECD Recommendations makes up the strong OECD anti-corruption framework, covering tax, official development assistance, export credits, and state-owned enterprises.

Key elements of the Recommendation

  • Promote a comprehensive approach to fighting foreign bribery through new measures to enhance awareness-raising and training of, as well as detection by, key government agencies, including foreign representations, financial intelligence units, tax authorities and official development assistance agencies.
  • Strengthen enforcement of foreign bribery laws, including proactive detection and investigation of foreign bribery, more effective international co-operation among law enforcement authorities and co-operation in multi-jurisdictional cases.
  • Address the demand side of foreign bribery cases by calling on countries to address the solicitation and acceptance of bribes and better support companies facing bribe solicitation risks.
  • Introduce provisions on the fundamental principles and features of non-trial resolutions.
  • Include extensive provisions to ensure comprehensive and effective protection of whistleblowers in the public and private sectors.
  • Encourage countries to incentivise enterprises to develop internal controls, ethics and compliance programmes or measures to prevent and detect foreign bribery.

How can we reduce bribery and corruption?

1. Update anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies:

An ethical code of conduct should be tailored to your company and your organisation – no two will be the same. What are the risks inherent in your organisation? What about in your industry? A pharmaceutical company will have some different risk areas than a retail store, for example. A non-profit organisation might have concerns that relate to fundraising, a government agency might be focused on preventing bribery or collusion. The goal of an ethical code of conduct is to help all employees understand the expectation that they always behave in a legal and ethical manner, and that the organisation has zero-tolerance for unethical behaviour.

2. Get the tone right from the top:

Smart corporate leaders know that “Tone at the Top” is a significant factor in the general corporate culture. The behaviour and mindsets demonstrated by those at the top of the chainset are the standard for the rest of the industry to follow. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to ethical standards; if an organisation is lenient and easy-going towards unscrupulous behaviour, it generates a perplexing memorandum for other members of the same workforce and encourages damaging habits.

When an organisation creates a zero-tolerance environment for fraud and corruption, the opposite is true: personnel come to understand that ethical behaviour is the norm. Anything outside of those bounds will be reprimanded – perhaps with the loss of their job or even prosecution.

Creating a zero-tolerance approach to fraud doesn’t happen overnight. When your organisation enrols in ISO 37001 ABMS training and certification, the program involves your entire team. The training helps establish an ethical culture by educating your employees on the following:

3. Embed ABAC principles in corporate culture:

Governments around the world are responding to the need to enact new legislation to fight corruption. Until the last 20 years or so, most laws and regulations were relatively weak, other than the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). However, a growing intolerance for corruption and increased outrage at high-profile cases has changed the landscape, spurring the more recent U.K. Bribery Act (UKBA) 2010 and other similar stringent Anti-Bribery and Anti-Corruption (ABAC) laws.

Bribery and corruption can cause extreme harm to organisations and economies, causing distrust, economic loss, criminal consequences and loss of reputation. As we see more and more countries promulgating new and more sophisticated antibribery and corruption legislation as well as aggressive enforcement by government regulators we know it can get complicated to understand and keep tracking of all this information.

After the tremendous success and popularity of our short three-part article series: “ABAC Laws and Regulations Around the World” Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 we are proud to announce the launch of this playbook. ABAC Laws and Regulations Around the World Playbook goes into each of the laws and regulations and discusses the importance, mechanisms and action points to each.

4. Ensure gifts and hospitality meet key criteria:

When deciding whether to accept gifts/hospitality, the context is important, and you need to consider whether: it is a regular occurrence? or the timing of the offer raises any potential issues of propriety? Guidelines on gifts and hospitality help companies to combat corruption and these elements need to be included in any policy on gifts and hospitality:

  1. Scope of application
  2. Defining a gift or invitation
  3. Acceptance and refusal conditions

5. Conduct due diligence on all third parties

Our parent brand CRI® Group’s own exclusive, expert-developed 3PRM™ services, can help you proactively mitigate risks from third-party affiliations, protecting your organisation from liability, brand damage, and harm to the business. Whether your organisation has a large, well-established third-party program, is in the early stages of development, or is anywhere in between, the 3PRM™ solution can improve the health of your program and future-proof your entire business in many forms.

6. Watch out for bribery and corruption red flags:

In business, one of the many schemes that can cause serious legal and financial consequences is collusion. While some business leaders might wonder what separates collusion from other types of fraud, and how to identify it, there is a key factor: secrecy.

7. Add precautions for foreign public officials:

8. Avoid facilitation payments:

Small bribes, commonly termed ‘facilitation payments’, are typically demanded in everyday transactions, for example at border crossings. There is growing international recognition that facilitation payments are not easily separated from other forms of bribe and increasingly, companies are following a zero-tolerance policy throughout their global operations, with no exemptions for facilitation payments

9. Report bribery and corruption concerns promptly:

A “red flag” is a fact, event, set of circumstances, or other information that may indicate a potential legal compliance concern for illegal or unethical business conduct, particularly concerning corrupt practices and non-compliance with anti-corruption laws. These “red flag” examples should always trigger concern and appropriate review by any organisationThe Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act 2010 threaten severe penalties. But the UN still estimates that $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year, and a further $2 trillion is lost through corruption. 

10. Make anti-bribery training meaningful:

ISO 37001 training – Anti-bribery Management Systems (ABMS). At ABAC®, we understand how vital ISO 37001 ABMS training is for your career, team and organisation – a company’s employees are its best protection against corruption. Statistics show that most corruption is detected internally. Give yourself and your employees the tools they need to prevent bribery and mitigate related risks.

Achieving ISO 37001 ABMS training in Introductory, Internal Auditor, or Lead Auditor courses is a proactive way of demonstrating your organisation’s commitment to ethical sustainability. Your employees will be able to recognise any form of corruption and report it. Our trainers are the best in the business. They’re passionate about sharing their knowledge with you or your employees. ABAC® trusted experts have years of hands-on and interaction experience – they bring the subject matter to life with relevant and contemporary examples.

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About the 2009 Recommendation

The Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials was released on 9 December 2009, when the OECD marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

The OECD adopted the Recommendation to enhance the ability of the States Parties to the Anti-Bribery Convention to prevent, detect and investigate allegations of foreign bribery and includes the Good Practice Guidance on Internal Controls, Ethics and Compliance.

For more information about the Recommendation:

About ABAC®

Anti-Bribery Anti-Corruption (ABAC®) Center of Excellence is an independent certification body that provides education and certification services for individuals and organisations on a wide range of disciplines and ISO standards, including ISO 31000:2018 Risk Management- GuidelinesISO 37000:2021 Governance of OrganisationsISO 37002:2021 Whistleblowing Management System, ISO 37301:2021 (formerly ISO 19600) Compliance Management systemAnti-Money Laundering (AML) and ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems.

ABAC® is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS CB number: 10613) against ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 Conformity assessment — Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of the scheme’s management systems of ISO 37001:2016 Anti-Bribery Management Systems (ABMS). This makes ABAC® Certification the leading accredited certification body specialising in global anti-bribery and anti-corruption, risk and compliance management system standards. ABAC® experts audit any existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA, UK Bribery Act, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations while maintaining a competitive edge in the world marketplace.

ABAC® Center of Excellence, powered by CRI® Group, educates, equips and supports the world’s leading business organisations with the latest best-in-practice risk assessments, performance assessments, systems improvement and standards Certification.

ABAC® offers a complete suite of solutions designed to help organisations mitigate the internal and external risks associated with operating in multi-jurisdiction and multi-cultural environments while assisting in developing frameworks for strategic compliance programs.

If you seek to validate or expand your existing compliance frameworks to maintain a competitive edge in the world marketplace, ABAC® can help you. Our experts audit your existing compliance and anti-bribery anti-corruption management systems to assess effectiveness and vulnerabilities while ensuring your organisation complies with Internal Standards, FCPA rules, UK Bribery Act laws, Anti-Money Laundering regulations, and all other global, regional and local regulations.