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OECD expresses concern over Ireland’s commitment to foreign bribery Convention

Dublin, 29 March 2007 - The 36-country OECD Working Group on Bribery expressed concern over Ireland’s commitment to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, notably given its poor participation in the five-day visit to Ireland by OECD examiners in October 2006.

Such visits are an obligation under the Convention, and a crucial element for assessing how effectively countries are fighting foreign bribery. The total absence of awareness raising activities on foreign bribery in Ireland also demonstrates the low priority given to application of the Anti-Bribery Convention.

The Working Group on Bribery therefore welcomes and accepts Ireland’s invitation to carry out another two to three day on-site visit within one year, and feels this is necessary to ensure a more effective examination of Ireland’s enforcement of the OECD Convention. In addition, the Working Group recommends that Ireland:

  • Amend its legislation on foreign bribery, which currently exists in two different statutes;
  • Expand corporate liability for foreign bribery, and clarify the scope of the relevant legislation for companies;
  • Amend its laws to confirm that bribe payments to foreign public officials are not tax deductible;
  • Ensure that Irish citizens and corporations can always be effectively prosecuted for foreign bribery offences committed outside Ireland.

Positive aspects of Ireland’s fight against foreign bribery and related offences include improved mechanisms for seizure and confiscation of proceeds of foreign bribery, under the Proceeds of Crime legislation. In addition, recent reforms in company law should allow for more effective enforcement of offences related to foreign bribery, such as false accounting. The Working Group also welcomed the proposed Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, as well as the Government’s intention to establish a committee for monitoring compliance with the Convention – positive steps for addressing certain weaknesses in the foreign bribery legislation.

The report lists all the recommendations of the Working Group on pages 66-70 and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal and policy features in Ireland for combating the bribery of foreign public officials. As with all other OECD Working Group members, Ireland will orally report to the Working Group on its actions to implement the Working Group’s recommendations after one year. Ireland will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years, which will be the basis of a publicly-available Working Group evaluation of Ireland’s implementation of the recommendations.

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