International pressure is mounting for France to boost their anti-bribery and corruption efforts, but French organisations face the most serious risks—and have the greatest need for strong compliance programmes—today.
France has had a lot of anti-bribery and corruption lows over the past year—from adding a third French company to the U.S.’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) top ten enforcement actions to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) October 2012 declaration that France was not in compliance with the OECD Convention.
With all so many high-profile—and expensive—cases against French companies coming from foreign jurisdictions, why aren’t more French companies changing their behaviour? There has been a lot of speculation on the topic and at least part of the answer lies in France’s historical lacklustre enforcement at home.
The Working Group formed by the OECD has spent years looking into the bribery and corruption enforcement efforts in France. In their October report, the Working Group said it was “seriously concerned” with France’s approach, and in its December 2014 report, “France: Follow-Up to the Phase 3 Report & Recommendations” that concern turned to irritation.
France Still “Falling Far Short” of OECD Expectations
Reporting that France “still falls far short of the expectations,” they cite example after example of prior recommendations not being implemented—and the mishandling of many of the recommendations it did implement. This includes the 24 newly-opened procedures meant to combat bribery of foreign officials that not only resulted in no new convictions, but that “the number of acquittals, dismissals and case closures has risen significantly.”
France is consistently getting lambasted by the international community over its poor bribery and corruption enforcement and still not taking swift action to rectify its failings. We’ve seen the same thing happen in the U.K. and Germany. Organisations based in both countries were prosecuted under the FCPA resulting in severe fines and negative attention—and both countries were eventually forced to beef up their bribery and corruption enforcement. The writing is on the wall for France to get its act together. But French multinational organisations are facing the most serious risk today.
French Businesses Need to Build Strong Anti-Bribery & Corruption Compliance Programmes Today
With the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) already targeting French companies under the FCPA, and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office swiftly on its heels, organisations based in France need to build strong anti-bribery and corruption compliance programmes now. An effective anti-bribery and corruption programme will not only help ferret out illegal behaviour, it can provide a legal defence against corporate liability in the eyes of prosecutors.
Read our whitepaper entitled “Holistic Approach to Anti-Corruption” Compliance to get more information on the risks and the eleven steps organisations should take to create an effective anti-bribery and corruption compliance programme, which include:
- Tone from the top that bribery and corruption are not a way of doing business
- Creating and distributing bribery and corruption policies
- Training for employees and managers on these policies
- Third party due diligence—one of the major risk areas for employers
The pressure from the international community and international regulators to make real change in France continues to increase. Don’t wait for France to start taking bribery and corruption enforcement seriously—get ahead of it.