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NZ Should Strengthen Fight Against Bribery

OECD - Paris, 9 November 2006

NZ Should Strengthen Fight Against Bribery

New Zealand should strengthen its fight against the bribery of foreign public officials by expanding corporate liability for the criminal offence of foreign bribery, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

The 36-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed a review of New Zealand’s enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

The main recommendations of the OECD Working Group are that New Zealand should:
• amend the law to expand corporate liability for foreign bribery. Currently, prosecution and thus conviction of companies that engage in bribery is unlikely because the law sets very high barriers to any corporate criminal liability. The laws should be changed to make companies more accountable;
• clarify and expand the role of the Serious Fraud Office in the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery cases;
• allow for the sharing of information about suspected criminal offences between the tax and law enforcement authorities;
• ensure that the foreign bribery offence in New Zealand does not require the interpretation of any foreign law for its application and clarify the scope of the facilitation payments exception so that it complies with the Convention;
• increase efforts to raise awareness in the public and private sector regarding the foreign bribery offence and its legal consequences.

The Working Group also highlighted positive aspects of the fight against foreign bribery by New Zealand companies and persons, including New Zealand’s current proposed legislation to facilitate seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of bribery, its efforts to make the extradition system easier to use by requesting states and its encouragement of whistleblowing in appropriate cases. The Working Group also welcomed New Zealand’s adoption of tax legislation expressly prohibiting the deduction of bribes, but recommended that it apply to all foreign bribe payments, including bribes paid through intermediaries.

The report, available at http://www.oecd.org/corruption , with the full recommendations on [page 69], also includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal and policy features in New Zealand for combating the bribery of foreign public officials. As with all other OECD Working Group reports, New Zealand will orally report to the Working Group after one year on its actions to implement the Working Group’s recommendations. A further report in writing to the Working Group within two years will give rise to a publicly-available evaluation by the Working Group of New Zealand’s implementation of the recommendations.

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