E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

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OECD Antibribery Convention

What is this Convention and what does it do?

Who benefits from this Convention?

How can this Convention help my company?

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

How can I get more information?

What is this Convention and what does it do?

This Convention requires its Parties, under their national laws, to criminalize the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions and to impose criminal penalties on those who give, offer or promise any such bribes.

The following 41 countries are Parties: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Russian Federation, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. For the latest update on countries that have ratified the Convention, see the OECD's list of ratification status (offsite link).

Who benefits from this Convention?

All U.S. exporters and investors will benefit from this important treaty which has reduced bribery in the international marketplace. Bribery and corruption are unfair business practices that distort trade and place honest companies at a competitive disadvantage. This Convention requires countries to criminalize bribery of foreign officials under their domestic laws, and is aimed at ensuring that companies win contracts on the superiority of their products or services, not because of illegal bribes.

How can this Convention help my company?

The OECD Convention obligates its signatories to criminalize the bribery of foreign public officials in a manner similar to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Targeting the offering side of bribery transactions, it requires Parties to make it a crime, under their national legal systems, for individuals or corporations to promise, offer or give a bribe to a foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or some other improper advantage in the conduct of international business.

Under the Convention, Parties also agree to:

criminalize the bribery of officials of international organizations;

criminalize business-related bribes to foreign public officials made through intermediaries;

impose criminal or comparable civil penalties on those who bribe foreign public officials;

provide for the confiscation of bribes and bribe proceeds where such a penalty exists under national laws;

make bribery an extraditable offense; and

prohibit off-the-books accounts and similar practices typically used to hide such bribery.

The Convention encourages all Parties to work together to prevent and deter the bribery of foreign public officials in international commerce and to provide mutual legal assistance in combating bribery. Parties to the Convention have also agreed to eliminate the tax deductibility of such bribes under domestic law.

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

Yes. The U.S. Government is available to provide assistance and guidance to American companies that believe they are being adversely affected by bribery covered by the Convention. If you have evidence that a foreign competitor from a country that is a party to the Convention has promised, offered or given a bribe to a foreign official, you can bring this to the attention of the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Agreement's Designated Monitoring Officer will review your complaint and contact you for additional information, as needed. The information you provide will then be directed to the appropriate State, Justice, or Commerce Department office for follow-up action as appropriate. This could involve diplomatic contacts with the government of the foreign competitor or the government of the country where the transaction occurred. It could also lead to an investigation in the U.S. if there is a potential violation of U.S. law.

In addition, information on the bribery of public officials can be used within the OECD to apply "peer group pressure" on parties to carry out their obligations under the Convention and take effective enforcement actions. The OECD Working Group on Bribery monitors implementation and enforcement of this Convention, and signatories are held accountable for complying with the obligations that they have accepted. The Working Group also evaluates the adequacy of each Party's national laws to meet the Convention's requirements.

Continued monitoring and peer review help reduce the incidence of bribery in international business transactions. However, corruption and bribery are deep-seated problems in many countries, and it may not always be possible to intervene successfully in particular transactions. For the Convention to become an effective tool in combating bribery over the long term, it is important that we establish an accurate record of problems involving the bribery of public officials and the enforcement efforts of Parties to the Convention.

Although the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiation and Compliance will try to assist U.S. firms that believe that a foreign competitor may have offered or paid a bribe, you should be aware that not every offer or payment of a bribe necessarily constitutes a violation of the laws implementing the Convention. Each party is obligated to make the bribery of foreign public officials a criminal offense under its domestic laws. It has the responsibility to evaluate the facts of a particular case and apply its own jurisdictional and prosecutorial principles in deciding whether or not enforcement action is appropriate under its own laws. Not every payment or offer of a bribe is necessarily a violation of the law that has been enacted, nor can every violation necessarily be successfully prosecuted.

How can I get more information?

The complete text of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related documents is available from the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's web site. Below are direct links to the Convention, the new Recommendation, and the Good Practice Guide as discussed above:


2009 Recommendation:

Good Practice Guidance for preventing and detecting bribery:

If you have questions about the OECD Convention, you can e-mail the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance, which will forward your message to the Commerce Department's Designated Monitoring Officer for this Convention. You can also contact the Designated Monitoring Officer at the following address:

Designated Monitoring Officer -

OECD Antibribery Convention

Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance

International Trade Administration

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Tel: (202) 482-3723

Fax: (202) 482-6097

General information on the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development can be obtained from the OECD's website (offsite link)

TANC offers these agreements electronically as a public service for general reference. Every effort has been made to ensure that the text presented is complete and accurate. However, copies needed for legal purposes should be obtained from official archives maintained by the appropriate agency.