Questions Remain About Effectiveness Of Bribery Pact

Notable about the U.S. Commerce Dept.'s first report to Congress on the recently implemented international anti-bribery convention is what's missing. There's no assessment of how effective enforcement of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) pact will be. (Admittedly, the agreement has been in effect only since mid-February.) And, among the world's major industrial nations, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France, ironically the OECD's headquarters country, have yet to ratify the anti-corruption measure. But there's no doubt that bribery of foreign officials in pursuit of contracts is serious (and for U.S. companies, illegal) business. Foreign bribery was alleged in 55 contracts worth $37 billion in 1998, and during the last five years bribery is conservatively thought to have influenced decisions on 294 major commercial contracts worth $145 billion, notes U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce David L. Aaron.

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