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Expressing grave concern that Bangladesh’s leading foreign trade partners have been shockingly failing to enforce action against foreign bribery, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) called upon the foreign trade partner countries to strengthen laws and enforcement systems, reports UNB.

Referring to a TI report titled ‘Exporting Corruption’ launched globally on Tuesday, TIB has alerted the government about risks of huge loses of various types, especially increased money laundering, said a press release.

“It is shocking that the biggest global exporters are showing the worst track records of compliance of their own pledges against foreign bribery. Poorest performers include China, Japan, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, Canada and Mexico, many of whom are Bangladesh’s largest trade and investment partners. We are alerting our government, foreign trade entities and other stakeholders to take rigorous corruption prevention measures in foreign trade and investment,” said TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman.

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In a statement, TIB executive director also said, “Drawing the attention of diplomatic missions and other representatives of the relevant countries, we also call upon them to take concrete actions against foreign bribery as they have committed under UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, as applicable.”

The problem has always been, and will now be further exacerbated by corrupt practices of foreign business and investment entities at a time when Bangladesh badly needs to expand foreign trade and investment
IftekharuzzamanIftekharuzzaman

The report finds enforcement against foreign bribery shockingly low among half of G20 countries. It says that fewer of the world’s biggest exporters are actively investigating and punishing companies paying bribes abroad.

The study, “Exporting Corruption 2020: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention”, conducted bi-annually by the TI Secretariat in Berlin, finds that active enforcement against foreign bribery significantly decreased since 2018.

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The share of global exports from countries that actively enforce against foreign bribery and related money laundering is down by more than a third.

Only four out of 47 countries, which make up 16.5 per cent of global exports, actively enforced legislation against foreign bribery, compared to seven countries and 27 per cent of global exports in 2018. In fact, most countries, 34 out of 47, covered by the study conducted practically no enforcement of their relevant laws.

China, the world’s largest exporter, failed to open a single investigation into foreign bribery between 2016 and 2019, though Chinese companies have been allegedly involved in multiple scandals and investigations by other countries.

Two other non-OECD major exporters – Hong Kong and India – did not open a single foreign bribery investigation from 2016 to 2019. Singapore opened only one investigation and concluded one case with sanctions during the past four years.

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The TIB executive director said, “The timing of the report is particularly important for Bangladesh as we have been already struggling desperately with deep-rooted corruption from within. The problem has always been, and will now be further exacerbated by corrupt practices of foreign business and investment entities at a time when Bangladesh badly needs to expand foreign trade and investment.”

“Time is ripe for the government and other stakeholders to mainstream anti-corruption practices in all sorts of business and investment dealings with foreign entities, the opportunities for which have been amply created by the UNCAC, of which Bangladesh is a State Party,” he said.