Israel is one of the world’s seven leading countries in enforcing the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention, according to a report issued on Wednesday by Transparency International, a Berlin-based NGO monitoring and tackling global corruption.
The 1997 convention, which is signed by all 36 OECD countries and eight other states which together are responsible for 65% of global exports, requires the criminalization in national law of bribery of foreign public officials.
Israel was also deemed to have made the greatest improvement in enforcement during the last three years, from little or no enforcement to active enforcement.
Countries were evaluated according to the number of investigations commenced, charges filed and cases concluded with sanctions between 2014 and 2017. They were then placed into four enforcement categories: “Active,” “moderate,” “limited” and “little or no” enforcement.
Countries party to the convention are expected to strengthen their legal frameworks and enforcement systems against money laundering, and tax and accounting violations, as well as ensure adequate standards of due process in bribery case settlements, and publish annual data regarding foreign bribery enforcement processes.
Other countries actively enforcing the anti-bribery convention were the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and Norway. Together they were responsible for approximately 27% of global exports. Israeli exports constitute 0.4% of global transactions.
China, the world’s largest exporter and not a signatory to the convention, was considered to have little or no enforcement of anti-foreign bribery processes, offering no deterrence to local companies seeking to bribe foreign officials.
In total, countries responsible for more than 50% of global exports have limited to little or no enforcement against companies bribing officials abroad.
Israel’s meteoric rise in the enforcement categories is the result of the successful conclusion of its first ever foreign bribery case, by means of a settlement, and a sharp increase in the number of investigations opened since the last reporting period.
The report highlights the settlement reached by Israeli company NIP Global, also known as Nikuv, in December 2016, in which it was fined $1.2m after admitting it had paid more than $500,000 in bribes to a senior Lesotho Interior Ministry official to be awarded government contracts and advance its business in the African country.
NIP, which has offices in Israel, Cyprus and five African countries, sells digital and biometric solutions for population registers, national identification cards, border controls and both civil and criminal fingerprint identification.
The report also drew attention to ongoing Israel Police investigations into alleged corruption by BSG Resources in Africa, Shapir Engineering in Romania, Shikun & Binui Holdings in Africa, and Israel Shipyards in Kenya.
Despite Israel’s increased efforts to combat foreign bribery, the NGO recommended that Israel amend its penal law so that sanctions for foreign bribery are not subject to an existing dual penalty requirement and that limitations to jurisdiction not apply to foreign bribery.
It is also recommended that the Ministry of Defense formulate quality standards and a mechanism to monitor the implementation of anti-corruption compliance programs for defense exports.
In addition to the OECD convention, Israel is also a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption.
The convention, which Israel ratified in 2009, covers a range of corrupt activities, including bribery, abuse of functions and trading in influence, and focuses both on corruption in the public and private sectors.