20/03/2015 – The risk of Greek companies bribing foreign officials is substantial, but Greece has not given the same priority to fighting foreign bribery as it has to domestic corruption. This sends an unfortunate message that foreign bribery is an acceptable means to win overseas business and improve Greece’s economy during an economic crisis. Greece must therefore urgently raise the priority of fighting foreign bribery and explicitly address foreign bribery in its national anti-corruption strategies.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on Greece’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Working Group made further recommendations to improve Greece’s fight against foreign bribery, including:
- Raise awareness of foreign bribery, especially among exporting, shipping, and small- and medium-sized companies
- Develop and implement a strategy to detect foreign bribery
- Assess and investigate all credible foreign bribery allegations seriously and without delay
- Provide prosecutors and investigators with sufficient resources
- Better protect whistleblowers from retaliation
The report also notes some positive developments. Greece has reduced duplicate legislative provisions and clarified ambiguities in its foreign bribery offence. The maximum fines for foreign bribery have been raised, though further increases are necessary. The Public Prosecutor against Crimes of Corruption has been given an important role in investigations and prosecutions. Greece has clarified how foreign bribery investigators can obtain information protected by tax secrecy. A new Ministry of Anti-Corruption was created in January 2015. The Working Group will follow up whether and how this Ministry impacts Greece’s fight against foreign bribery.
Following the signing of a cooperation agreement on Thursday 12 March 2015, the OECD Secretariat is providing technical assistance to help Greece with the design and implementation of a broad range of structural reforms, including the promotion of a culture of transparency and integrity.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Latvia, Russia and South Africa – adopted Greece’s report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The Report, available here, lists all of the recommendations of the Working Group to Greece on pages [59-64], and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of Greece’s framework to fight foreign bribery.
Greece will submit a report in one year on progress made in implementing certain key recommendations. As with other Working Group members, Greece will also submit a written report to the Working Group within two years on steps it has taken to implement the all of the recommendations. This report will be publicly available.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Lynn Robertson, OECD Anti-Corruption Division (email [email protected]; +33 (0)1 45 24 18 77).
More information on Greece and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is available at http://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/greece-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm.
For more information on OECD’s work to fight corruption, please visit www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery.