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Levels of global anti-bribery enforcement have fallen to all-time lows.

According to Transparency International's most recent report, countries are not doing enough to try to combat foreign bribery, with enforcement at its lowest level since 2009. (TI).

Only the US and Switzerland, according to the anti-corruption activist, can be regarded as "active enforcers" because of their initiatives to look into cases, bring charges, and apply serious penalties as a deterrence.

Formerly viewed as "strong" enforcers, nations like the United Kingdom and Israel now fall under the category of "moderate" enforcers, which also includes France, Germany, Norway, Latvia, and Australia.

With the exception of China, India, Hong Kong SAR, and Singapore—four of the major exporters in the world who have not yet signed the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention—TI's "Exporting Corruption 2022" research evaluated the enforcement histories of 43 OECD Anti-Bribery Convention members.

The majority of the countries studied, according to the research, either have very little or no enforcement. This group includes India, which does not have laws that make foreign bribery illegal, and China, the largest exporter in the world. Other countries with zero case histories since 2018 included Russia and Mexico.

Foreign bribery violations go mostly unpunished in 38 of the 47 countries studied, a group accounting for more than 55% of all exports globally, according to TI. Few countries provide enough information about cases of foreign bribery that are currently active, pending, or closed.

Since TI's 2020 report, just two nations—Latvia and Peru—have increased the level of enforcement.

While the pandemic may have slowed development and delayed certain investigations, according to TI, the decline in enforcement started in 2018. It attributed the lack of enforcement to "serious inadequacies" in the legal and judicial systems of all countries, some more so than others.

For instance, France adopted legislation in 2021 limiting the length of preliminary investigations for corruption to five years. Meanwhile, there remain gaps in the definition of what counts as a foreign bribery crime in a small number of OECD convention countries, including New Zealand, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Portugal, and Slovenia.

The TI study also identified ineffective whistleblower protections or speak-up channels as well as a lack of resources, training, and independence for law enforcement and investigation agencies as hurdles to effective enforcement.

According to the research, access to data and important pieces of evidence is still restricted, recompense for victims of overseas bribery and corruption is seldom, and international collaboration still encounters major barriers as a result of "incompatible" legal frameworks.

According to the report's principal author and TI's head of conventions, Gillian Dell, "Even in countries that do enforce, foreign bribery continues to be treated as a victimless crime. [...] It is time to recognize victims’ rights by developing transparent and accountable mechanisms to compensate those harmed, including foreign states, business competitors, and whole populations suffering from foreign bribery. This is essential to achieve justice and deter future violations."

The study noted several encouraging improvements, including global initiatives to advance transparency by utilizing registries of beneficial ownership more frequently so that the real owners of corporations may be discovered.



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