One topic on the agenda at next week’s OECD Integrity Forum is “Settling Foreign Bribery Cases with Non-Trial Resolutions.” As explained here, a principal reason for a session on settlements is the concern that developing countries are losing out on them. When the bribe-taker is a developing country official and the bribe-payer employed by a transnational corporation, the case is most often resolved through a settlement in the country where the corporation is headquartered. And the developing nation’s interests are often ignored.
A notorious example is the bribery of Nigerian officials by the American company Halliburton. The company settled the case with U.S. authorities for $559 million; years later it settled with Nigeria for $35 million, just over six percent of what the U.S. extracted. Yet which country suffered the most from the bribery? And which one is more pressed for resources?
Countries with civil law legal systems offer a solution that common law nations would well advised to consider: allow the victim government to participate as a party to the criminal proceeding with the right to file a claim for damages and indeed to help in gathering evidence for the prosecution. Swiss law provides one example employed by several countries which have been victimized by corruption. Continue reading