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Bribery in international business transactions



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JOINT STATEMENT

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR TRADE, TREASURER AND ATTORNEY-GENERAL

BRIBERY IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS

As part of the preparation for the 1997 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting and against the background of the adoption, by the United Nations General Assembly in December last year of a Declaration against Corruption and Bribery in International Commercial Transactions, the Government has considered measures to address bribery in international business transactions and the bribery of foreign public officials.

The Government does not consider that Australian businesses are significantly involved in bribery of foreign officials, and strongly urges all businesses to avoid making such payments. Bribery distorts international trade and investment by raising transaction costs, reducing efficiency and creating a level of uncertainty for business.

The Government considers this matter to be a serious international issue, and that any action by governments is most effective if taken on a multilateral basis. The Government has therefore decided "that, in conjunction with other OECD Members, it will implement appropriate measures to combat the bribery of foreign public officials. Such bribery involves the offering or provision of inducements

to or for a foreign public official to act in violation of the official’s legal duties, in order to obtain or retain business.

The Government notes that many OECD Members now have measures to deny a tax deduction for bribes paid to foreign officials. The Government has therefore requested the Commissioner of Taxation to prepare appropriate legislation after considering foreign legislation, administration costs and compliance costs.

The Government also notes the OECD’s ongoing work on the criminalisation of bribes paid to foreign public officials. Since OECD Members have agreed to criminalise bribery in an effective and coordinated manner, the Government will examine proposed measures to create an international bribery offence.

In its relations with non-members and international organisations Australia already assists with promoting anti-corruption policies, for example through its aid program.

Business groups and non-government organisations have been consulted on this issue.

16 May 1997

CANBERRA

Contact Officers: Mr John Woods: (06) 261 2062 (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) Mr Bruce Paine: (06) 263 4409 (Treasury-Taxation Issues) Mr Jack Woodforde: (06) 250 6512 (Attorney-General’s Department)

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