Netherlands must significantly step up its foreign bribery enforcement, says OECD
The Netherlands is failing to vigorously pursue foreign bribery allegations and must do more to enforce its foreign bribery laws. Fourteen out of 22 foreign bribery allegations have not triggered the opening of an investigation, calling into question the Netherlands’ ability and proactivity in investigating and prosecuting this crime.
The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its report on the Netherlands’ implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.
The Working Group will follow up on the Netherlands’ efforts to improve its enforcement of foreign bribery in the course of its regular monitoring. It will also closely monitor developments concerning the effective investigation and prosecution of ‘mailbox companies’ – companies incorporated in the Netherlands but pursuing their activities entirely from abroad – which have been the subject of a number of foreign bribery allegations. The Group made further recommendations to improve the Netherlands’ fight against foreign bribery, including to:
– Proactively investigate foreign bribery cases concerning Dutch individuals or companies, including where other jurisdictions may be involved;
– Provide adequate resources to Dutch law enforcement authorities to more effectively investigate and prosecute foreign bribery;
– Promptly increase the level of financial sanctions for legal persons, as currently envisaged in draft legislation.
The report also highlights positive aspects of the Netherlands’ efforts to fight foreign bribery, including steps taken to raise awareness of the foreign bribery offence within the public and private sectors, as well as the measures put in place within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate the reporting of foreign bribery. The Working Group also commends the Netherlands for its commitment to an efficient confiscation regime.
The Working Group on Bribery – made up of the 34 OECD Member countries plus Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Russia and South Africa – adopted the Netherlands’ report in its third phase of monitoring implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
The Report, available at www.oecd.org/daf/nocorruption , lists all of the recommendations of the Working Group to the Netherlands on pages 50-53, and includes an overview of recent enforcement actions and specific legal, policy and institutional features of the Dutch framework for fighting foreign bribery. As with other Working Group members, the Netherlands will submit a written report to the Working Group within two years on steps it has taken to implement the new recommendations. This report will also be made publicly available.