March 08, 2017
In 1977, the U.S. Congress jumpstarted the modern-day anti-corruption movement with its passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Since then—and at a growing pace—other countries have joined that movement by passing their own foreign-bribery laws, spurred in part by international agreements and directives like the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention.
The road from enactment to enforcement can be long. The FCPA sat virtually dormant for its first 25 years, with only a handful of cases prosecuted. The subsequent upswing has been dramatic, making the U.S. the world leader in foreign-bribery enforcement, responsible for about 46% of all currently open investigations.
Still, transnational bribery is—by definition—a global issue. The U.S.’s head start has given its activities a certain prominence, but there is a widespread trend toward greater enforcement. European countries, for example, are together responsible for more than 40% of current investigations. With continued encouragement from international entities like the OECD, we can hope to see this trend extend further across the globe.
To see something, though, it helps to be looking for it. The enforcement activities of U.S. agencies are widely covered by journalists and bloggers in the compliance field. While less attention is given to enforcement activity elsewhere in the world, that will gradually change with the number of high-profile cases brought by other national agencies—such us the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, or the coalition of Latin American authorities galvanized by Brazil’s Operation Car Wash.
But there’s more to global anti-bribery enforcement than headline-worthy cases. At TRACE, we recognize that addressing corruption requires resolute and ongoing effort across the world, in both the public and the private sectors. Maintaining this international focus is one of the reasons we continually monitor global enforcement activity and make our research publicly available through the online TRACE Compendium. It is also why, for each year since 2010, we have published our Global Enforcement Report (“GER”), summarizing key data about the extent and location of foreign-bribery enforcement—including where bribery has allegedly happened, where the payments have allegedly come from, which authorities are pursuing the allegations, and what industries have been involved.
The 2016 edition of the GER was published last week. We hope it will not only provide useful information, but also encourage continued awareness of the global character of corruption and the need for a global response.
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