OECD Adds Three Key Words To Its Anti-Bribery Recommendations

OECD Adds Three Key Words To Its Anti-Bribery Recommendations

Donna Boehme and Joseph E. Murphy – Ethikos – March 2010

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Something remarkable transpired in Paris on Dec. 9, 2009 — a development that should be on the radar screen of all boards of directors of multinationals. The occasion was a high-level symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-bribery Convention’s taking effect. At this event, the quiet inclusion of three words—“ethics and compliance”—into newly issued anticorruption recommendations marked a dramatic international recognition of the critical need for proactive compliance and ethics programs for companies both small and large, around the world.

As observers of international diplomacy know, it is extraordinarily difficult to get 38 nations (the world’s 30 most economically developed democracies, plus eight other Convention signatories) to agree on anything, much less the recommended behavior of companies to avoid bribery and corruption of foreign officials. For many of the member nations, the idea of their governments proactively promoting compliance and ethics programs to combat bribery is a new concept. Even in countries like the United States, which have pioneered some such efforts, the recommendations challenge governments to do more.

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