Foreign bribery and the role of intermediaries, managers and gender

The understanding of corruption risks is key to the successful prevention and detection of bribery within companies. Access to data can help draw a clearer and more comprehensive picture of this crime by shedding light on behavioural patterns at both ends of corrupt transactions and by helping to identify bribery schemes, thereby enabling better anticipation and mitigation of risks. This study analyses newly available data on two aspects of foreign bribery schemes that are key for the private sector: the use of intermediaries and the status of individuals involved in bribery committed by corporate entities. This study also takes a first look at the merits of applying a gender lens to the collection of data relating to cases of foreign bribery.

This study forms part of a three-part project on corporate anti-corruption measures to support sustainable business. This project supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 16 specifically deals with “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions,” and target 16.5 of this goal is “Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.” In particular, the target seeks to decrease the “[p]roportion of businesses that had at least one contact with a public official and that paid a bribe to a public official, or were asked for a bribe by those public officials during the previous 12 months.” This target and indicator recognise that the private sector is a primary actor in the supply side of corruption. The three complementary and interrelated pillars of this project support more effective corporate anti-corruption compliance programmes and policies based on the premise that compliance can only be efficient if tailored to actual risks.

The study was developed amid global recognition that actionable data on corruption and bribery is currently insufficient, and further research is needed to better understand, and therefore combat bribery. As part of the 2019-2021 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan, the G20 Anti-corruption Working Group committed to “continue to deepen its understanding of possible approaches to corruption measurement and encourage the development of additional reliable tools”. This study, through an analysis of targeted data, aims to build policy makers’ and the business community’s understanding of foreign bribery risks and in turn, better mitigate them.

The OECD would like to thank the Government of Sweden for their generous financial support of this study.

Virginie Gastine Menou

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