OECD denounces Italy’s failure to enforce the Antibribery Convention

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is an anti-corruption convention of the OECD that requires signatory countries to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials. The convention is a legally binding international agreement that focuses on the supply side of bribery by criminalizing acts of offering or giving bribes to foreign public officials by companies or individuals. Parties to the convention agree to establish the bribery of foreign public officials as a criminal offence under their national laws and to investigate, prosecute and sanction such an offence. Key elements of their commitments include creating a framework in which companies and individuals can be held responsible for foreign bribery.

In order to monitor whether the parties to the convention are fulfilling their obligations, the OECD regularly examines the legal situation in the states. In the current Phase 4 launched in 2016, the OECD Working Group on Bribery looks at the evaluated country’s particular challenges and positive achievements. It also explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international co-operation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports.

On 13 October 2022, the OECD Working Group on Bribery adopted the Phase 4 Report for Italy. There, the OECD Working Group on Bribery evaluates and makes recommendations on Italy’s implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery-Convention. In particular, the report details Italy’s achievements and challenges in respect to implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, as well as progress made since the Phase 3 evaluation.

According to a recently published article of Richard Messick, the OECD Working Group on Bribery fingered both the legislature and the judiciary for Italy’s non-compliance. The legislature because the sanctions for foreign bribery are too low to deter anyone or any company from paying a bribe, the judiciary for interpreting the rules of evidence in ways that almost invariably end in acquitting defendants. In his view, the report is “a comprehensive, well-reasoned report, a model for future compliance reviews”.


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