OECD criticises Dutch lack of foreign bribery prosecutions

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The OECD criticised the Netherlands on Tuesday for not prosecuting successfully Dutch companies accused of bribery abroad.

An OECD working group voiced "serious concerns that the overall results of foreign bribery investigations and prosecutions to date are too low."

A report said that "no individual or company has been sanctioned for foreign bribery" since the Netherlands joined the international convention against bribing foreign officials in 2000.

The Dutch economy is based on trade, both imports and exports, notably through Europe's biggest port at Rotterdam.

The Netherlands is the world's eighth-biggest exporter.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development provides analysis and policy guidance for 34 industrialised countries.

The OECD said that of 22 foreign bribery allegation in the Netherlands, 14 had not led to investigations and only two to prosecutions, which are due to go on trial this year.

The report noted that of the 22 allegations, 12 involved so-called "mailbox companies" which are incorporated in the Netherlands but pursue their activities entirely from abroad.

The report questioned the Netherlands' "ability and proactivity in initiating proceedings" against such companies.

The more than 20,000 mailbox companies in the Netherlands provided the Dutch government with more than one billion euros (1.3 billion dollars) in tax revenue in 2009, the report said.

The working group said that the current level of sanctions awaiting those guilty of bribery in the Netherlands "is not sufficient".

However, it welcomed draft legislation to increase fines to 10 percent of a company's turnover.

The report did note positive steps taken in the Netherlands, including the development of expertise in confiscating criminal proceeds.

It also welcomed corruption awareness-raising activities by the foreign ministry through its embassies.

© 2013 AFP

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