How common are government authority investigations into allegations of bribery?
Bribery & Corruption
While not as common as in many jurisdictions, Australian government authority investigations into allegations of foreign bribery appear to be increasing.
In its December 2017 Phase 4 Report relating to Australia's implementation of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery) and related OECD anti-bribery instruments (Phase 4 Report), the authors noted there were 19 ongoing investigations, 13 allegations under evaluation, and 20 that had been finalised after evaluation or investigation and subsequently closed. This was in comparison to seven ongoing investigations at the time of the December 2014 Phase 3 Report relating to Australia's implementation of the OECD Convention (Phase 3 Report).
According to the most recent statistics (for 2016), bribery is one of most common types of crimes of corruption. In 2016, there were 4,496 registered instances of a bribe being accepted and 1,951 cases of bribes being offered. A substantial increase of passive bribery was recorded in comparison to 2015 while the number of active bribery cases pursued by the authorities dropped insignificantly (by 10%).
The vast majority of these investigations have been initiated by the Police. The CBA opened investigations into 115 bribery cases.
It is not possible to ascertain precisely how many government authority investigations into bribery take place. Government statistics on recorded crime offences are grouped more broadly. Bribery is encompassed within the broader statistical category of Fraud, deception and related offences, of which there are typically between four and six thousand annually. However, more granular statistics were available for the period 2003 to 2012, which indicate that between 2 and 6 corruption offences were recorded annually.
The Brazilian Anticorruption Law was only enacted in 2013 and came into force in January 2014. Since then, certain judicial and police investigations which were disclosed in 2014 and uncovered corruption schemes have dominated the agenda of authorities. As a result of those judicial and police investigations, leniency agreements have been signed by corporate entities, collaboration agreements have been signed by individuals, revealing facts that are still to be investigated by the authorities.
As a result thereof, the current scenario is that current investigations into allegations of bribery are more related to and resulting from those leniency and collaboration agreements.
There is an expectation that once those major investigations are conclude, which may still take and while, authorities will have the required resources to initiate further investigations on their own.
The SFO is an active enforcement agency and there are at least 40 reported ongoing investigations and prosecutions under both the pre-Bribery Act corruption legislation and the Bribery Act itself. However, some of the SFO's caseload is not public. It claims to have around 60 live criminal cases at any given time. There have been four Deferred Prosecution Agreements since 2015 (see question below).
The UAE scored 71 points out of 100 on the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International, so the perceived level of bribery and corruption in the public sector is not high. The UAE treats bribery and corruption very seriously and any allegation will be investigated.
Based on statistics from the years 2013-2017, the CPIB typically receives between 700-800 complaints per year, of which roughly 50% are corruption related. Corruption cases registered for investigation by the CPIB tend to be between 100-150 per year.
Government authority investigations frequently take place regarding the allegations of bribery, which is reflected in statistics published by the Supreme People's Procuratorate which show that 96,870 people were investigated and prosecuted for bribery related issues from 2013 to 2017, an increase of by 28% in the past five years. According to the Work Reports of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, 10472 people were investigated and prosecuted for the taking of bribery in 2016, and 7375 people were investigated and prosecuted for the offering of bribery. The statistics also increased respectively to 15662 and 8298 in 2017.
As for administrative enforcement, according to the written decisions of administrative penalties published by the Administration for Industry and Commerce (“AIC”) in Shanghai, from 2015 to 2017, more than 180 entities in Shanghai were penalized for commercial bribery with the monetary penalties adding up to RMB 115 million in total, including confiscation of illegal gains and fines imposed.
Due to the concealment of bribery acts, oftentimes only between the bribery offering party and the receiving party, investigations are mostly triggered by whistle-blowing reports (eg. from competitors) or the implications with other cases. The government has been improving its reporting mechanism by establishing multiple platforms and channels with the involvement of the Public Security Bureau (“PSB”), the People’s Procuratorate (“Procuratorate”), the Disciplinary Committee of Communist Party of China, AIC, etc. Additionally, though rare in occasion, enforcement actions by Chinese authorities can also be triggered by the penalty announcement published by other jurisdictions which involve citizens or the entities in China.
Government prosecuting bodies are obliged to investigate all bribery allegations they receive. The Federal Government has implemented a specific complaint and report system (the Integral System for Citizen Claims and Reports) by means of which any person that has been involved in, has suffered, or has knowledge of a bribery act at a federal level, may file a complaint before the competent authority; all the claims filed trough said system must be investigated. According to data gathered by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) as of 2014, 10,047 public officials were sanctioned by Internal Control Bodies; 2,993 were charged with bribery sanctions; 406 public officials were sentenced (whether in an absolutory or condemnatory sense); and only 81 were imprisoned for such criminal offences.
Under Greek Law the competent authorities for investigating allegations of bribery, i.e. the prosecuting authorities, are under an obligation to initiate a preliminary inquiry as soon as they are informed on possible misconduct. This information may be a formal complaint, an anonymous tip or even information leaked to the Press. This is also the case for other criminal acts, so opening an investigation into allegations of bribery does not require exercising discretionary power by the authorities (whether to start an investigation or not) but normal progress of the procedure.
Given that at least two Authorities are awarded power to investigate exclusively (Anti-Corruption Prosecutor) or primarily (the General Inspector of Public Administration) acts of corruption, it is evident that all relevant allegations are being investigated.
Once an allegation of bribery is received by a government authority, necessary investigations are carried out after obtaining necessary sanctions / approvals (as required under PCA and the rules of service governing the concerned public servant.). Upon completion of investigation, the matter is referred to the court for further proceedings in accordance with the governing enactment. In the recent past the investigative authorities have adopted a rather stringent approach so far as cases of corruption and bribery are concerned. The manifest intention behind the said approach is to act as a deterrent and regulate the accountability public officials as well as large corporations which would necessitate the implementation of adequate compliance measures to avoid offences of similar nature.
In Angola, judicial decisions are not available to the public on a centralised database, except for Constitutional Court’s decisions. Therefore, the frequency of investigations of alleged bribery is virtually impossible to tell.
According to statistics from the General Department of Justice Policy, between 2007 and 2015, the Judiciary Police has, on average, begun 378 new investigations into alleged corruption cases per year.
Investigations into allegations of bribery are very few in Denmark and are rarely carried out in respect of Danish individuals or entities engaging in bribery abroad.
According to the police crime statistics for the year 2016, criminal offences in relation to bribery and registered by the police, decreased compared to 2015 by roughly 13 percent. The numbers dropped from approximately 1500 to 1300 investigated cases.
Government authority’s investigations into allegations of bribery are not very common in Italy, as almost all the aspects related to bribery conducts fall under the jurisdiction of the criminal courts (and the Public Prosecutor’s Offices there established).
According to the CCAC’s Annual Report, in the year of 2016 there have been around 900 reported cases of bribery or corruption. From these, approximately 250 were criminal cases.
HRA: Due to recent events relating to hidden debt, it has become very common for the governmental authority to investigate allegations of bribery. However, the procedures do not usually result in any actual convictions.
Bribery offences under the Penal Code are frequently investigated. Offences of Bribery of foreign officials under the UCPA have been investigated occasionally.
In the past, one considered that there was an opacity of bribery schemes which explained the low number of convictions.
There is now a significant shift in the treatment of the corruption issue. Just after being created, AFA launched several investigations and many companies are awaiting AFA’s controlling agents. In the meantime, French companies are implicitly invited by AFA to fill forms linked to the efficiency of their compliance programme (form containing approximately one hundred questions).
While government investigations into allegations of bribery naturally number less than other higher volume white collar crimes such as fraud, they have increased in the recent years, mainly in the wake of large international bribery schemes such as the Odebrecht investigation.
Due to the low level of national bribery in Switzerland, investigations of purely domestic bribery is still rather rare, with the exceptional larger case occasionally making the headlines. The majority of bribery cases therefore involve international aspects, in line with the strong international focus of Switzerland's economy. Overall, however, the prosecution level is often still perceived as very low.
It is noteworthy that many bribery related cases raise anti-money laundering issues, either in addition to the corruption related aspects, or as the main aspect of the case as far as Switzerland is concerned. The reason lies in Switzerland's strong finance industry that in some cases still attracts tainted funds, leading to related mutual legal assistance proceedings, including the confiscation of assets, and domestic proceedings for breach of the anti-money laundering laws. Unless the corruption in question was also committed in Switzerland, no proceedings would usually be opened for corruption in such cases.
Bribery investigations by the DOJ and SEC are common and each agency has a dedicated FCPA unit. Investigations may be initiated as a result of a company’s self-disclosure of a violation, a whistle-blower report by a competitor, current or former employee or third party, or the government’s own independent discovery of potential violations.