The Netherlands does more against foreign bribery

The Cabinet has implemented measures to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of foreign bribery cases. This is reported by Minister Opstelten of Security and Justice in response to the evaluation report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) working group to combat the bribery of foreign officials, which report was published today.

According to the OECD, the Netherlands should make more effort to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery cases involving Dutch citizens or Dutch companies. Thisis the third time that countries affiliated with the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions) are  beingevaluated. The Netherlands has been a party to the OECD Convention since 2001 and was evaluated in 2012. 

The Netherlands attaches great importance to ethical international trade. A legislative proposal to strengthen the combating of financial-economic crime has already been announced in the coalition agreement. The legislative amendment is expected to be sent to the House of Representatives at the start of 2013. This should make it possible to link the fine imposed on companies to their sales. Moreover, it is proposed that the punishment for international bribery be increased from four to six years. 

In a response, the Cabinet expresses its appreciation of the OECD's recommendations and states that the necessary measures have been set in motion. The main point of criticism expressed by the OECD is that the Netherlands has not yet prosecuted any cases involving foreign bribery. The Netherlands is also requested to make more funds available to investigative organisations and the Public Prosecution Service to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery more effectively.

Minister Opstelten reported towards the end of last year that the investigative capacity of the police with financial-economic specialisation will be expanded by 585 FTE to 1156 FTE. Moreover, supervision at the Tax and Customs Administration will be strengthened further. At the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD), it concerns a reinforcementby 50 investigative officers for investigating inter alia tax structures and 100 addition investigative officers for combating complex money laundering structures. 

The Public Prosecution Service (OM) has committed itself to dealing more actively with signals and cooperating with other countries for this purpose. The above is intended to prevent cases of foreign bribery from not being handled as a result of their international character and complexity. The OM's instruction concerning the handling of foreign corruption was recently tightened pursuant to the criticism expressed by the evaluation team. 

The OM is currently handling several cases involving foreign bribery. The Netherlands will inform the OECD on progress in a year’s time. 

The OECD also expresses its appreciation of the Dutch approach to foreign bribery. The Netherlands is praised for its efficient approach towards criminal proceeds. The OECD is also positive about the steps taken by the Netherlands to create awareness among governments and the business community concerning the obligation to deal with foreign bribery. And finally, the OECD embracesthe measures implemented by the Cabinet to improve the process that Dutch diplomats follow to report bribery.