Watchdog urges Switzerland to step up anti-bribery efforts

In the Petrobras and 1MDB corruption affairs, a total of 24 banks based in Switzerland were investigated © KEYSTONE / MARTIAL TREZZINI

Switzerland is an active anti-bribery enforcer but still needs to do more, the Swiss branch of the anti-corruption group Transparency International said on Wednesday. 

This content was published on September 12, 2018 - 11:40

In its latest assessment of compliance with the OECD Anti-Bribery ConventionExternal link, Transparency International said only 11 out of 44 signatory countries conduct active or moderate enforcement, including Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Britain, the United States, Australia and Sweden. Together, the 11 countries account for 30.8% of world exports. 

Meanwhile, over half of global exports come from countries that regularly fail to punish bribing of foreign officials. Thirty-three countries, accounting for 52% of world exports, had limited or little enforcement, including Canada, New Zealand, China, India, Japan and Ireland. 

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention requires parties to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials and introduce related measures. 

Transparency International said that in the 2014-2017 reporting period, Switzerland began 115 anti-corruption investigations, opened three cases and concluded 11 cases with sanctions. The main foreign bribery investigations in 2016-2017 concerned the Petrobras, 1MDB, Yara and Gazprom affairs. 

A March 2018 report by the OECD on Switzerland found that five legal persons had been convicted in the past four years and that many foreign bribery cases were under investigation (137 investigations for money laundering and foreign bribery in 2016, compared with 24 in 2011). 

The Swiss branch of Transparency International saidExternal link Switzerland was certainly more active than many other countries in implementing the OECD treaty, to which it acceded 18 years ago, but said that urgent measures must still be adopted. 

It said anti-corruption sanctions were insufficient and the scope of the existing Anti-Money Laundering Law was too narrow, stating that it should also be applied to lawyers, notaries, trustees, real estate agents and dealers of art and luxury goods. Also, the legal protection of whistleblowers needs to be strengthened, it added.

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