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Ireland failing to meet its international obligations to stop bribery

20 August 2015

Ireland has failed to live up to its commitments under the OECD anti-bribery convention over the last four years, says anti-corruption group Transparency International today in its 11th annual progress report on enforcement of the convention.

Sixteen years after the entry into force of the convention, the 2015 progress report shows that only four of 41 countries signed up are actively investigating and prosecuting companies that bribe foreign officials to get or inflate contracts, or obtain licences and concessions. Six countries are classified as having moderate enforcement, while another nine have limited enforcement. The remaining 20 countries, of which Ireland is one, are doing little or nothing to ensure their companies do not spread corruption around the world. A further two countries could not be measured.

‘Our government pledged to tackle bribery by Irish nationals and companies overseas when it ratified the OECD anti-bribery convention in 2003. That was 12 years ago. Since then there has not been a single prosecution and there are no signs that the law will be enforced’, said Transparency International Ireland chief executive John Devitt.

‘Precious few resources are invested in tackling corruption or white collar crime in Ireland and it appears that helping fighting international bribery is not a government priority either. There have been very few attempts to raise awareness among Irish companies of corruption risks when doing business abroad. It’s particularly disappointing to see that promised changes to Irish corruption legislation have yet to be introduced.

With a general election pending, we’re unlikely to see it any time soon’, Mr Devitt added.

In contrast to Ireland, the four leading enforcers (Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States) completed 215 cases and started 59 new cases from 2011-2014. The other 35 countries completed 30 and started 63. Twenty countries have not brought any criminal charges for major cross-border corruption by companies in the last four years.

Since the 2014 progress report, Norway has improved to “Moderate Enforcement” from “Limited Enforcement”. Greece, Netherlands and South Korea have improved to “Limited Enforcement” from “Little or No Enforcement”. Argentina is the only country to decline – moving from “Limited Enforcement” to “Little or No Enforcement”.

Six of the countries in the G20 are in the “Little or No Enforcement” category, meaning they are failing to meet the goals set in the G20’s Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2015-2016.

Transparency International Ireland has called on the Irish Government to pledge more resources to tackle corruption, including international bribery and money laundering. It has also called for the establishment of a specialist anti-corruption unit to investigate future reports of corruption related activity.

The report can be found at:


Breakdown of enforcement levels of OECD anti-bribery convention signatory countries (listed in order of their share of world exports)

Active Enforcement: (4 countries) 22.8 %

United States
United Kingdom

Moderate Enforcement: (6 countries) 8.8%

Limited Enforcement: (9 countries) 12.7%
South Korea
South Africa **
New Zealand

Little or No Enforcement: (20 countries) 20.4%
Russia ***
Czech Republic
Slovak Republic
Colombia ***

Iceland could not be classified as its share in world exports is too small to permit distinctions to be made between enforcement categories. The same applies to Latvia because of its small share in world exports and the short time since it joined the Convention.

** Without any major case commenced during the past four years a country does not qualify as being a moderate enforcer, and without a major case with substantial sanctions being concluded in the past four years a country does not qualify as being an active enforcer.

*** The Convention entered into force in Russia in April 2012, in Colombia in January 2013 and in Latvia in May 2014, so the requirements were lowered proportionately.