From the perspective of global anti-bribery compliance, international developments always need to be kept in mind. It does not matter whether an entity’s compliance efforts are oriented to the FCPA, the UK Bribery Act, Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act, or similar legal regimes. There is a growing convergence in terms of the manner and means by which more and more countries are adopting and implementing similar legal regimes.
The convergence is largely a by-product of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Anti-Bribery Convention), the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, and the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. But particularly critical to the convergence taking place is the work of the OECD’s Working Group on Bribery.
On January 12, 2012, the OECD Working Group issued its Phase 3 Report on Implementing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in Japan. The report was critical of Japan’s lack of enforcement of its implementing legislation. It called on Japan to increase its efforts to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery cases. In addition, it called on Japan to establish a legal basis for confiscating the proceeds of bribing foreign officials and to make it a crime to launder the proceeds of foreign bribery.
The OECD Working Group also called on Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), the ministry that has responsibility for Japan’s foreign bribery offence, to take a stronger role in ensuring the effective implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. In addition to promoting enhanced enforcement efforts, METI was also called on to take a more active role in encouraging the use of anti-compliance programs by Japanese companies.
Given the history of the OECD Working Group in pressing parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to take corrective measures, increased activity can be expected from Japan. The degree to which increased activity can be anticipated remains to be seen. However, METI is already in the process of seeking insights from U.S. and U.K. practitioners as well as the U.S. and U.K. subsidiaries of Japanese parent companies.