Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
15 November 2005
CONVENTION ON COMBATING BRIBERY OF FOREIGN PUBLIC OFFICIALS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS

Chairperson:
Mr S Shiceka

Documents Handed Out
OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions
OECD presentation

SUMMARY
Ms I Bodasing (Department of Public Service and Administration: Anti-Corruption Specialist) briefed the Committee on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Devlopment (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The Committee was satisfied that the Convention and the connection with the OECD would be in South Africa’s interest.

MINUTES
Ms I Bodasing (Department of Public Service and Administration: Anti-Corruption Specialist) briefed the Committee on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Devlopment (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. It would be in South Africa’s interest to be connected with the OECD’s range of expertise and information.

The Conventions would use domestic law to criminalise bribery of foreign public officials. This would not apply to corruption other than bribery because it has been covered by other laws. It would not apply to bribery that was purely domestic or where the recipient of the bribe was not a public official.

South Africa would benefit from this connection with the OECD. It would provide a forum for consultations, policy studies and institutional review. South Africa was invited by the OECD because of its important role in Africa. It would become a non-member participant of the Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions and would have privileges of membership except the right to vote on new membership applications and the status of observer countries.

Gains for South Africa included an increased OECD interest in promoting regional harmonisation and further opportunities for engagement on a regional and continental level. Accession to the Convention would provide opportunities for the training of government and private sector officials. South Africa would be the first African country to accede to the Convention and participate in the Working Group. A Non-member Participant could request an annual review.

Discussion
Mr A Moseki (ANC, North West) asked who constituted the Working Group and what the response of other African governments has been. Ms Bodasing said the Working Group comprised of OECD members and some developing countries that have been invited to join it. If South Africa signed the Convention it would become part of the Working Group. The OECD extended invitations to countries based on certain criteria. Ms Bodasing was not aware if other African countries had been invited. A technical subcommittee was put together to answer a questionnaire that accompanied the invitation to join the Convention.

The Chairperson asked what happened when bribery occurred in a non-signatory country where the convention was not applicable. Only the national of a signatory country could be prosecuted under the Convention. Officials from non-signatory countries could be prosecuted only under the laws of their own country.

The Chairperson asked if the Convention could be used retrospectively. Ms Bodasing said it could not apply retrospectively.

The Chairperson asked if there was any intention of harmonising laws in different countries over the definition of bribery. Ms Bodasing said the purpose of the convention was to harmonise laws. The names of laws may vary but the specific elements of the laws must be the same.

The Chairperson said parliamentarians were concerned with whether South Africa’s interests would be served by an agreement. The South Africa government was committed to eliminating corruption. The cost of the convention would be about R40, 000, there would be a great deal of benefits. Business people could feel confident that underhand activities would be prevented.

Mr M Mzizi (IFP, Gauteng) said he fully supported the Convention.

The Committee was satisfied that the Convention served the interests of South Africa.

The meeting was adjourned.

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