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The Criminalisation of Bribery in Asia and the Pacific

image of The Criminalisation of Bribery in Asia and the Pacific

Criminalisation is a key component of all international anti-corruption instruments. For example, the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Anti-Bribery Convention) and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) both require States Parties to enact specific criminal offences on bribery. The Asian Development Bank (ADB)/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Corruption Initiative's Action Plan commits countries to ensure ‘the existence of legislation with dissuasive sanctions which effectively and actively combat the offence of bribery of public officials’.

However, criminalisation can be a challenging task, as experienced by many countries Party to the Anti-Bribery Convention. This report reviews the criminalisation of bribery offences in Asian countries under the UNCAC. Drawing on the experience of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention's monitoring mechanism, the review focuses on each member's implementation of UNCAC Articles 15, 16 and 26 (domestic and foreign bribery by natural and legal persons). The review also identifies trends and challenges across the Asia-Pacific region.

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Enforcement of bribery offences

Arguably, the most important aspect of the criminalisation of bribery is the enforcement of bribery offences. It is a vital first step for the Initiative’s members to have criminal offences that captures the full range of conduct of bribers and bribed officials. However, even perfect, loophole-free laws would be meaningless unless they are actually enforced. It is therefore important to examine the actual number of cases that are investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned, and any obstacles facing the prosecutorial and investigative authorities. The actual use of the investigative tools described above is also important. Some of the Initiative’s members may have laws authorising the use of certain investigative techniques but not the know-how or resources to deploy them in practice.

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