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Business: Corruption

Volume 459: debated on Tuesday 1 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which UK officials attended the last three meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions. (134650)

Each meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Working Group on Bribery takes place over three days. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) leads the UK delegation and not all UK officials attend every session of each meeting. In total, the following UK officials attended the last three meetings:

The October 2006 meeting was attended by one official from the FCO; one from the City of London Police; one from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS); one from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The January meeting was attended by three officials from the FCO; one from the Attorney General's Office; three from the SFO; one from the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Police; two from the CPS; one from the City of London Police; one from the Home Office (HO).

The March meeting was attended by four officials from the FCO; one from the Attorney General's Office; two from the SFO; one from the CPS; one from the MOD Police; two from the City of London Police; one from the HO; one from the Department for International Development.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to the (a) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and (b) OECD member states on the publicisation of the work of the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions as it affects investigations in the UK. (134652)

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery regularly publicises aspects of its work, for example by press statements on the group's country monitoring reports. Such press statements are discussed and agreed in plenary by all members of the group. However, the group operates under an understanding that the country being monitored has the right to comment on the text, but foregoes its right to block the final text.

As the hon. Member is aware, recent meetings of this group in January and March have discussed, among other subjects, the circumstances surrounding the discontinuance of the Serious Fraud Office's investigation into allegations about BAE Systems' activities in Saudi Arabia. At the end of both the January and March meetings, the group agreed a press statement on the UK under the established procedure described above. In the run-up to and during these meetings, British officials discussed with the OECD Secretariat and partner OECD Governments various relevant aspects including possible options for press communications, and how those might be organised. This included proposals for a formal press briefing at the end of the March meeting.

Since the March meeting of the Working Group, there have been no formal press communications proposed. British officials have therefore made no further representations concerning the group's media activities.