Since ratification, Ireland has been in discussion with the OECD in relation to Ireland’s implementation of the convention, and the OECD has suggested a range of actions to be undertaken by Ireland. Accordingly, the relevant Irish Government Departments and bodies have initiated a comprehensive programme to ensure that implementation is being progressed.
In addition to a range of measures to be undertaken by other state bodies, including other divisions of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Trade Policy Unit of this Department has responsibility for the following actions.
- Raising awareness of the OECD Anti-Bribery Conventions by informing agencies, organisations and companies doing business abroad of the requirements under the Conventions.
- Publishing and distributing a guide which includes information on the protections in Irish legislation for whistleblowers reporting suspected corruption offences and provides contact information for the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, if there is a suspicion of corrupt practices in international business transactions.
- Advising companies of the specific measures which an exporting enterprise could implement, such as:
- Ensuring that all employees are familiar with the relevant bribery and corruption laws, their responsibilities and the appropriate response to any suspicion of corrupt activity;
- Ensuring that agents and partners, who are representing or purporting to represent their business, have adequate and valid credentials for the activities being undertaken;
- Establishing monitoring and reporting requirements for agents and partners representing their business; and
- Establishing a clear and accessible internal system for the reporting of any suspicious behaviour in relation to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. “
In relation to Ireland’s compliance with these responsibilities, it is particularly relevant that it is the development agencies, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland who have the closest engagement with companies in Ireland that are most likely to be exporting to foreign markets. Accordingly, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is arranging for these agencies to ensure that they are actively liaising with their client companies on this issue.
Overall, corruption reduces efficiency and increases inequality. Estimates show that the cost of corruption equals more than 5% of global GDP (US$ 2.6 trillion, World Economic Forum) with over US$ 1 trillion paid in bribes each year (World Bank). Engaging in corrupt practices also creates a very unfavourable business environment by encouraging unfair advantage and anti-competitive practices. As well as allowing organised crime to flourish, corruption is one of the primary obstacles to the economic development of a country; it undermines the rule of law, weakens trust in public institutions and challenges democratic principles.
A person who has either a suspicion or documentary proof that corrupt practices are taking place in international business transactions should in the first instance report the matter to the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, Harcourt Square Dublin 2. (Contact No: 01 6663776) On receipt of such a complaint, the Bureau will conduct an assessment to determine whether a crime has taken place and will then either proceed with the investigation itself or assign responsibility to the relevant Garda Region.
Bribery is a specific offence which concerns the practice of offering something, usually money, to gain an illicit advantage and corruption is an abuse of a position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage.
Irish businesses, both at home and abroad, should implement anti-corruption policies and practices, including anti-corruption guidelines, training, internal audit procedures and reporting requirements. The challenge for business is to maintain, review and develop these measures to respond to changing circumstances.
Some specific measures a business could implement may include;
- establishing an anti-corruption policy;
- ensuring all employees are familiar with the relevant bribery and corruption laws, their roles in the business, their responsibilities and the appropriate response to any suspicion of corrupt activity;
- ensuring that agents and partners, who are representing or purporting to represent your business, have adequate and valid credentials for the activities being undertaken;
- establishing monitoring and reporting requirements for agents and partners representing your business;
- establishing a clear and accessible system for the reporting of any suspicious behaviour.
The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions was signed in December 1997 and came into force in February 1999. Ireland ratified the Convention in September 2003. The Convention is aimed at reducing corruption in developing countries by encouraging sanctions against bribery in international business transactions carried out by companies based in the convention member countries.
UNCAC –The 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption
Council of Europe – The 1999 Criminal Law Convention of the Council of Europe on Corruption, which includes thirty six member states.