OECD Commends United States for its Efforts to Fight Transnational Bribery
The following is the text of a joint statement issued by the Departments of Justice, Commerce and State, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
U.S. efforts to fight transnational bribery were commended today after an official review by the Working Group on Bribery of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), announced the Departments of Justice, Commerce and State, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC.) In releasing its review, the OECD’s 38-country Working Group on Bribery applauded U.S. enforcement efforts and high-level support for the fight against the bribery of foreign officials.
In finding the United States fully compliant with the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and the 2009 Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery, the Working Group highlighted a number of best practices developed by the United States in its efforts to combat foreign bribery, while also noting areas for potential enhancement.
For example, the report noted that the creation of dedicated, specialized units within the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the FBI to focus on potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) significantly increased the rate of enforcement, and that the creation of a new unit at the SEC should further strengthen enforcement efforts. The report also welcomed U.S. efforts toward close cooperation with foreign authorities and the regular interaction between U.S. and foreign law enforcement, noting that this cooperation is essential to ensuring an effective global fight against corruption.
The Working Group recommended that the United States ensure the statute of limitations period for the foreign bribery offense, which is currently five years, is sufficient to allow adequate investigations and prosecutions. It also recommended that the United States raise awareness of its diligent pursuit of books and records violations under the FCPA, including violations for misreported facilitation payments, and that it pursue additional opportunities to raise awareness generally among small- and medium-sized enterprises on the prevention and detection of foreign bribery. In future periodic reviews of policies and approaches to facilitation payments, the Working Group recommended the United States consider the views of the private sector and civil society.
“Bribing foreign government officials is not a legitimate way to do business,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The United States has risen to the forefront of enhanced global efforts to combat foreign bribery, including through our vigorous enforcement of the FCPA. We appreciate the Working Group’s recognition of our success in holding companies and individuals accountable for their criminal wrongdoing, raising awareness among the business community, and increasing cooperation with our foreign law enforcement counterparts.”
U.S. OECD Ambassador Karen Kornbluh opened the U.S. review by noting that the U.S. fight against corruption and transnational bribery in particular, is a priority for President Obama and Secretary Clinton. “We are proud our efforts are recognized by the Working Group. The United States will continue to elevate the issue of transnational bribery and to encourage all countries to adopt strong laws and effective enforcement mechanisms,” the Ambassador added.
“We welcome this report, which recognizes the significant steps law enforcement agencies in the United States have taken to enforce the FCPA,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “The SEC has created an FCPA unit to crack down on cross-border bribery, and in the first nine months of 2010 alone, we obtained more than $400 million in disgorgement and penalties. Word is getting out that bribery is bad business, and we will continue to work closely with the business community and our colleagues in law enforcement in the fight against global corruption.”
“This report shows that the United States is serious about fighting corruption in international business transactions, and sets a high standard for global cooperation in this fight,” said Cameron Kerry, the General Counsel of the U.S. Commerce Department. “It also provides excellent guidance to U.S. companies on the FCPA. The Obama Administration is determined to fight corruption internationally, to promote the rule of law and reduce barriers to U.S. exports, and to level the playing field for U.S. companies in international business transactions.”
United States: Phase 3, Report on the Implementation and Application of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and the 2009 Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery was published after an approximately six-month review by teams of examiners from Argentina and the United Kingdom, assisted by the OECD’s Secretariat, during which examiners reviewed approximately 1,000 pages of documentation and conducted a series of interviews with government, private sector, academic and civil society experts to determine U.S. compliance with the Anti-Bribery Convention.
An inter-agency team of individuals from the Departments of Justice, Commerce and State, and the SEC represented the United States. Along with Finland, the United States was the first country to undergo this Phase 3 review. The Phase 2 review of the United States was completed in October 2002.
Since the Phase 2 review in 2002, 71 individuals and 88 enterprises have been held accountable in the United States, criminally and civilly, for transnational bribery and related offenses. During this same time period, the United States has secured more than $3 billion in criminal and civil penalties and fines, criminal forfeiture, and civil disgorgement in FCPA related cases.
The United States will make an oral follow-up report of its actions to implement the Working Group’s recommendations one year from the release of the report. The United States then will submit a written report on these actions to the Working Group within two years, which the group will then evaluate and will be made publicly available.
The full report and additional background information can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa/intlagree/.