Skip to main content

OECD Anti-bribery Convention: UK Compliance

Volume 455: debated on Monday 15 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the UK's record of compliance with the 1999 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti Bribery Convention; and what enquiries have been made by the OECD regarding UK compliance since the beginning of December 2006. (115164)

The Working Group on Bribery (WGB) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) monitors implementation of the Anti-Bribery Convention through a system of peer review.

In its December 1999 “phase 1” evaluation of the UK's legislative compliance with the convention, the WGB said that it was

“not in a position to determine that the UK laws are in compliance with the standards under the convention.”

The OECD conducted a follow-up review after the introduction of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, whose part 12 amended the scope of UK law as it relates to bribery. The WGB's “phase 1bis” evaluation, published in March 2003, concluded:

“...the UK law now addresses the requirements set forth in the convention".

In a separate cycle of reviews, the WGB assesses all aspects of parties’ implementation of the convention—from awareness-raising to administrative processes and legal enforcement. The “phase 2” report on the UK was published in March 2005. It commended a number of aspects of our anti-bribery framework, such as employee whistleblower protection, the ability of the tax authorities to make spontaneous disclosures of suspicious information to law enforcement agencies and the wide scope of the “regulated sector” in our anti-money-laundering reporting regime. The report also noted the Government's support provided to a range of private sector and civil society anti-corruption initiatives. In addition, the report made a number of recommendations for further action, for example in our awareness-raising efforts, on investigation and prosecution and on working with the Crown dependencies and overseas territories. In line with the standard procedure, the UK gave an oral progress report to the WGB in March 2006 and we will be submitting a written report in March this year. I will place a copy of this report in the Library of the House after the WGB plenary discussion in March.

The chair of the working group wrote in December 2006 to explore the reasons for the Serious Fraud Office's decision to discontinue its investigation into bribery allegations against British Aerospace with respect to Saudi Arabia. Contacts with the chair continue and the UK delegation will discuss questions other delegations may have at the next plenary meeting on 16-18 January 2007.