TRACE received an early Christmas present today when the OECD announced a new recommendation on facilitation payments more closely aligned with TRACE’s longstanding position on this form of business bribery. The recommendation was made at the OECD’s celebration of “International Anti-Corruption Day” and the Tenth Anniversary of the Entry into Force of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The OECD also used the forum to introduce its Initiative to Raise Global Awareness of Foreign Bribery.
This is a timely and welcome move by the OECD that brings the considerable problems associated with facilitation (or ‘grease’ or ‘expediting’ payments) in the international business arena into keener focus. Just like large commercial bribes, grease payments abuse the public trust and corrode corporate governance. Treating them as anything other than outright bribery muddies the compliance waters and adds confusion where there should be clarity. We are delighted to see the OECD take a stronger stance.
OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke jointly unveiled the OECD’s new Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials via video-link from Washington, D.C. during the celebration, opened by remarks from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
TRACE has worked with companies for eight years to help them voluntarily end their reliance on facilitation payments. With management support, a clear message, careful planning and good internal controls, companies tell us avoiding this form of bribery is no more challenging than avoiding any other form – and the benefits are considerable. Of the companies that have moved away from reliance on these payments, none has reported a significant delay or disruption to their business.
Both the 2009 Facilitation Payments Survey Results and The High Cost of Small Bribes are available on the TRACE website. The High Cost of Small Bribes is available in English and French.