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International cooperation on foreign bribery

International cooperation is required to effectively combat foreign bribery by ensuring that countries adopt common rules.

Australia is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery and a party to the key international conventions concerned with combating foreign bribery:

Australia’s obligations under the Anti-Bribery Convention and UNCAC include making foreign bribery an offence and prosecuting the individuals and companies who engage in it.

OECD Working Group on Bribery

The OECD Working Group on Bribery monitors implementation and enforcement of the Anti-Bribery Convention and provides comprehensive information about global anti-corruption initiatives.

Australia's anti-foreign bribery regime is subject to periodic review by the working group. Australia's most recent report back to the working group occurred in December 2014. The working group found that Australia made good progress on addressing a number of important recommendations from our 2012 Phase 3 review.

The working group publishes a report on each of its reviews and these are available from the OECD website.

OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (the Convention) was developed in response to recognition of the need for national efforts and multilateral cooperation to address the problem of bribery.

The convention requires countries to legislate against the giving or offering of a bribe to a foreign public official to gain or retain a business advantage. It also requires countries to adopt common rules to punish individuals and companies who engage in bribery transactions.

In 2009, parties to the convention agreed to put in place new measures to reinforce their efforts to prevent, detect and investigate foreign bribery with the adoption of the OECD Recommendation for Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Australia’s implementing legislation for the convention is in Division 70 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). Find out more about the foreign bribery offence.

Monitoring and evaluation

The convention has a rigorous monitoring process to ensure that the legislation passed is appropriate and strictly enforced. The Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions is responsible for the monitoring of the convention.

Monitoring is carried out through both self and mutual evaluation of the convention and the 1997 Revised Recommendation.

Australia has completed 4 phases of monitoring:

  • Phase 1 evaluated whether the legislation passed to implement the convention is adequate.
  • Phase 2 studied the structures put in place to enforce and implement the convention and the 1997 Revised Recommendation, and assessed how effective those structures are in practice.
  • Phase 3 focussed on enforcement of the convention, the 2009 Anti‑Bribery Recommendation, and outstanding recommendations from Phase 2.
  • Phase 4, completed in December 2017, focused on particular challenges pertaining to detection, enforcement, corporate liability and international cooperation, as well as outstanding issues from prior reports and positive achievements.

Australia completed its Phase 4 follow-up in December 2019. Read a copy of our Phase 4 Monitoring Report.

Development of the convention

In December 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Declaration Against Corruption and Bribery in International Business Transactions.

In May 1997, the OECD Ministerial Council recommended that measures to combat bribery in international business transactions, including the criminalisation of bribery of foreign public officials, should be legislated in all member countries. Australia endorsed this recommendation. The convention was developed in response to the OECD Ministerial Council recommendation.

On 21 November 1997, OECD Member countries and 5 non-member countries adopted the Convention.

Ratifying the convention

Australia signed the Convention on 7 December 1998 and ratified the Convention on 18 October 1999. The Convention entered into force for Australia on 18 December 1999.

Australia’s implementing legislation came into force on 17 December 1999.

A number of countries have ratified the convention. Find out more about international efforts under the on the OECD website.

Foreign bribery print resources