Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

Easter island 2019.jpeg

Easter Island, Chile (Unsplash, 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with OECD.

Chile has stepped up its fight against foreign bribery in recent years but could do more to increase enforcement and compliance with the OECD Convention, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

The Working Group has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation on Chile’s implementation of the Convention of Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.

Since Phase 3, Chile has increasingly resolved corruption cases through conditional suspensions and abbreviated procedures. These instruments have contributed to increasing foreign bribery enforcement. However, some aspects of these resolutions are insufficient to ensure proper transparency and accountability.

Chile should ensure that these instruments remain available to the prosecutor while providing guidance on when and how to use these instruments, and on the appropriate terms of a resolution. Judicial oversight of the resolution process needs to be increased. The reasons for a resolution and the choice of its terms should be publicised to let the public determine the appropriateness of these decisions.

The Group made further recommendations to improve Chile’s fight against foreign bribery, including:

  • Bring its corporate liability regime in line with the Convention
  • Improve guidance for an effective offence prevention model (i.e. corporate compliance programme)
  • Better regulate certifiers of prevention models and clarify that certification does not equate to compliance
  • Rectify whistleblower protection which is weak in the public sector and non-existent in the private sector
  • Implement longstanding recommendations on confiscation and bank secrecy

The report also highlighted positive aspects of Chile’s efforts to fight foreign bribery. Chile obtained its first foreign bribery conviction in November 2016, and resolved charges against a company and its manager in another case in October 2015. Recent legislation significantly improved the general anti-corruption framework including the foreign bribery offence, sanctions and limitation period. Foreign bribery cases are assigned to Regional Prosecutors and supported by specialised prosecutor and police units, though additional training and expertise are needed. The reporting of suspicious money laundering transactions contributes to corruption detection. Measures to prevent, detect and report corruption in overseas aid programmes are in place but should be strengthened.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery, which is composed of 44 countries, adopted the report on 13 December 2018, including recommendations made to Chile on pages 69-75. In accordance with standard procedures, Chile is invited to report to the Working Group in writing in two years (by December 2020) on its implementation of these recommendations and on its foreign bribery enforcement actions.

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