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Posted on: June 24th, 2012 by Alima Naji No Comments

Greece fails to investigate major foreign bribery cases – OECD report

Parliament-Athens-source-Hellenic-Parliament1

photo: Hellenic Parliament

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OECD Working Group on Bribery report describes several areas in which Greece’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery falls short.

The Phase 3 report on Greece by the OECD Working Group on Bribery evaluates and makes recommendations on Greece‟s implementation and enforcement of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. The report considers country-specific (vertical) issues arising from changes in the Greece’s legislative and institutional framework, as well as progress made since the Greece Phase 2 evaluation in 2005. The report also focuses on key Group-wide (horizontal) issues, particularly enforcement. The report concludes that the Working Group could not conduct a proper examination of many issues because of the Greek authorities‟ failure to provide timely information, detailed statistics and translated legislation. This may be explained by the on-going financial crisis in the country. Greece is therefore required to undergo a Phase 3bis evaluation in order to review specific issues identified throughout this report. The Working Group will decide the precise timing and scope of the Phase 3bis evaluation in June 2013.

The Working Group is especially concerned over the Greek authorities‟ inaction in a case in which three Greek nationals allegedly committed foreign bribery. Despite learning of the allegations for almost two years, the Greek authorities failed to open a domestic investigation until after the on-site visit in January 2012. The Working Group will further examine this case in Greece‟s Phase 3bis evaluation. In the meantime, it recommends that Greece take all necessary measures to ensure that foreign bribery cases are seriously investigated and prosecuted as appropriate. Greece should also raise the awareness of foreign bribery among judges and prosecutors through appropriate training, and ensure that all competent law enforcement authorities have the power to investigate this crime. In addition, the Working Group recommends that Greece rationalise and eliminate duplicative statutory provisions that apply to the offence of foreign bribery, liability and fines against legal persons, confiscation, and foreign bribery-related accounting misconduct. Greece should also improve its system for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance and clarify the types of assistance available.

The Working Group is also concerned about Greece‟s limited ability to detect foreign bribery. Awareness of Greece‟s foreign bribery laws among the private sector, especially accountants and auditors, is low and needs to be raised. Finally, the Group noted that Greece still has not adopted appropriate measures to protect whistleblowers in both the public and private sectors from discriminatory or disciplinary action.

The report also notes some positive developments, such as Greece‟s efforts to improve its anti- money laundering framework, and to enact legislation to impose debarment from public procurement as a sanction for foreign bribery. Other Parties to the Convention have expressed appreciation of Greece‟s provision of mutual legal assistance in foreign bribery cases.

The report and its recommendations reflect findings of experts from Ireland and Korea and were adopted by the OECD Working Group on 14 June 2012. It is based on legislation and other materials provided by Greece and research conducted by the evaluation team. The report is also based on information obtained by the evaluation team during its three-day on-site visit to Athens from 31 January to 2 February 2012, during which the team met representatives of the Greek public sector, judiciary, private sector and civil society.

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