The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in a recent report highlighted Greece’s urgent need to improve its mechanisms to fight companies bribing foreign officials in order to win contracts. The OECD highlights that Greece should not only tackle domestic corruption but also foreign bribery.
“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 report says.
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 offense. 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 how this Ministry impacts Greece’s fight against foreign bribery.
Following the signing of a cooperation agreement on Thursday March 12, 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.