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India investigated zero foreign bribery cases between 2016 and 2019: Report

India figures in list of countries with worst track record in dealing with foreign bribery, according to Transparency International

Bribery | corruption | Money laundering

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

The US, UK, Switzerland, and Israel are the only countries assessed that continue to actively enforce laws against foreign bribery.

Amid the growing menace of corruption, a Transparency International report found that India did not launch a single investigation into cases of foreign between 2016 and 2019.

The report titled 'Exporting 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Convention' found that only four out of 47 countries, which make up 16.5 per cent of global exports, actively enforced legislation against foreign

The report indicated that there has been a significant drop in the investigation into bribery, scandals across the world since 2018. According to the report, "the biggest global exporters with the worst track records are China, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, India, and Mexico."

The report pointed out that China did not open a single investigation into foreign bribery between 2016 and 2019 despite Chinese companies figuring in several scandals in other countries. "Two other non-OECD major exporters – Hong Kong and India – did not open a single foreign bribery investigation from 2016 to 2019. Singapore opened only one investigation and concluded one case with sanctions during the past four years," the report said.

The US, UK, Switzerland, and Israel are the only countries assessed that continue to actively enforce laws against foreign bribery. France and Spain, which account for 3.5 per cent and two per cent of global exports respectively, improved their performance.

“Despite big cases involving companies like Airbus, Odebrecht, and many others, our research shows that many countries are barely investigating foreign bribery,” said Gillian Dell, Senior Advisor at Transparency International and lead author of the report. “Unfortunately, it’s all too common for businesses in wealthy countries to export to poorer countries, undermining institutions, and development. And no country is immune.”

The organisation in its report called for ending the secrecy in ownership of companies which acts as a barrier to investigation and to stop treating foreign bribery as a victimless crime. It also urged countries to strengthen laws and enforcement systems to handle complex international corruption cases.

“Although India has been a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption since 2011, it has yet to meet the Article 16 obligations to define and criminalise foreign bribery and the legal framework suffers from other shortcomings which affect India's capacity to prevent and prosecute foreign bribery,” said Ashutosh Kumar Mishra, lawyer and senior advisor at AGAM: An Initiative for Good Governance, which partnered with Transparency International in this report.

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First Published: Tue, October 13 2020. 10:39 IST