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European Commercial Bribery Laws and Countermeasures

2019-01-29 14:37 Tuesday

In recent years, global and regional anti-corruption legal instruments have played an important role in promoting the criminalization of commercial bribery. Notably, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption encourages, but does not require, countries to criminalize commercial bribery.

Commercial Bribery

The Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, overseen by the Council of Europe's Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), requires EU members to pass legislation criminalizing bribery in the private sector.

In the early years, the European Council Union adopted a framework decision on combating corruption in the private sector (2003/568/JHA), which stipulated that member states must criminalize both positive and negative bribery in the private sector. As a result, a growing number of people in Europe believe that commercial bribery should be made a crime.

While the changing legal environment f, significant changes to existing compliance procedures may not be required to address the risk of corporate bribery. In practice,  law enforcement agencies may still be more concerned with bribery cases involving government officials than with bribery in the private sector.

However, companies with a large presence in Europe should consider whether their current anti-corruption policies and procedures adequately guard against the risk of corruption. For example, they should consider if gift, travel and entertainment guides should be extended to business partners, and if their training programs adequately explain the issue of commercial bribery.

While there may be some differences between the private and public sectors in the scale and nature of permitted gift and entertainment expenditures, the drafting of appropriate guidelines in both cases can help companies better manage risk and simplify approval procedures. Moreover, as long as the company sends a clear signal that all bribery is prohibited, it will help develop a more effective compliance plan that is applicable to all scenarios.

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