OECD lambastes Spain’s poor showing in fight against foreign bribery

Agency laments the absence of any prosecutions in this area since offense came into force

 The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday voiced “serious concerns” about Spain’s failure to fulfill its commitments as a signatory of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention.

The Paris-based organization said Spain’s enforcement of laws cracking down, for example, on companies offering bribes to seal contracts overseas, has been “extremely low with not a single prosecution out of out of only seven investigations” in the 13 years since foreign bribery was established as an offense.

In a report, the OECD said that of the 23 recommendations its working group made in its previous inspection of Spain’s level of compliance with the convention in 2009, only four have been “satisfactorily” put into practice, while more than half have not been implemented at all.

“Spain must vigorously pursue foreign bribery allegations and strengthen its legal framework for fighting bribery by addressing gaps in its Penal Code,” the organization said.

Among the recommendations made by the working group, Spain was urged to tighten up its definition of foreign bribery and the sanctions to be imposed for such offenses. It also wants the law to make clear that the introduction of due diligence procedures against bribery by a company do not exempt it from liability.

It also recommended that swifter action be taken in bribery cases and for tougher penalties to be introduced, including the confiscation of assets. Bribery cases should also not be close “prematurely,” it said.

It specifically called for enhanced coordination among the Special Public Prosecutor’s Office against Corruption, the State Prosecution Service, the courts and other law enforcement authorities.

It also expressed concerns about the tax amnesty that was in place last year in Spain under which holders of black market assets could declare them paying a charge of only 10 percent of their value. It said this may have acted as deterrent to “effective detection and reporting of possible foreign bribery by tax officials.” However, it lauded anti-fraud measures that accompanied the amnesty.

While welcoming a specific ban on the tax deductibility of bribery, it recommendation that this should be made more explicit in the case of the autonomous tax regimes of Navarre and the Basque Country.

 

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