Norway has successfully enforced its foreign bribery laws but faces potential obstacles

Norway Prime Minister 2018

Ms Erna SOLBERG, Norwegian Prime Minister. Shoot location: Bruxelles – BELGIUM. Shoot date: 05/06/2018. Copyright: European Union

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.

Norway’s law enforcement institutions have demonstrated commitment and ability in combating foreign bribery using a robust legal framework. Its new Penal Code, however, could create obstacles to enforcement by potentially narrowing jurisdiction over foreign bribery committed by Norwegians abroad. In addition, certain aspects of the law, particularly in relation to corporate liability, could be further clarified to enhance the effectiveness of corporate liability, inter alia, in relation to the operations of foreign subsidiaries and other intermediaries.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Norway’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments. While recognising that the National Authority for the Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime (ØKOKRIM) has proactively investigated and prosecuted foreign bribery cases, the report identifies areas in which improvement by Norway is necessary.

The Group made various recommendations including to:

  • Amend the Penal Code to ensure that Norway can prosecute and sanction foreign bribery offences committed by its nationals abroad without regard to the law where the offence was committed
  • Ensure that the amounts of fines and confiscation imposed for foreign bribery are dissuasive and calculated in a transparent manner
  • Provide more information to the public about use and terms of penalty notices
  • Clarify what role the Supervisory Ministries of the SOEs have in reporting foreign bribery allegations to law enforcement authorities
  • Ensure that ØKOKRIM continues to make adequate resources available for investigating and prosecuting foreign bribery cases

The report also recognises the many strengths of Norway’s anti-bribery framework. In particular, ØKOKRIM embodies an integrated approach to law enforcement in which investigators and prosecutors work under a single institutional umbrella, thereby allowing it to harness a wide array of law enforcement expertise. Norway is also a front runner in managing corruption risks in the context of official development assistance. In addition, Norway has a comprehensive legal framework for whistleblower protection, portions of which reflect recognised good practice.

Norway’s report was adopted by the 44 members of the OECD Working Group on Bribery on 14 June 2018. The report, available at www.oecd.org/corruption/anti-bribery/Norway-Phase-4-Report-ENG.pdf, lists on pages 67-68 the Working Group’s recommendations to Norway. It also provides an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Norway’s framework for fighting foreign bribery.

In accordance with the Working Group’s standard procedure, Norway is invited to submit a written report to the Working Group in June 2020 on all steps that it has taken to implement these recommendations. This written follow-up report will also be made publicly available.

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