Friday 25 September 2020

Anti-bribery group says NL could do better, calls for more court cases

The Netherlands only carries out ‘limited’ monitoring to make sure that bribery and corruption are not an issue in deals involving foreign companies and countries, according to a new report by investigators at Transparency International.

In total 11 countries, including Austria, Chile, Greece and France, fall into the same category, the researchers said. The report looks at the way 44 leading economies are complying with the organisation’s anti-bribery convention.

The Netherlands is one of several companies which have improved their treatment of whistleblowers, although ‘half the Dutch companies studied were not compliant with the legal requirement of an internal whistleblowing policy,’ the report said.

Nevertheless, it has upped spending on specialist help and has appointed a special prosecutor to coordinate investigations, the report points out.

During the period under investigation (2014-2017), the Netherlands opened at least seven investigations, started two cases and concluded four cases with sanctions, including three major out-of-court settlements. These include SBM Offshore, Telia, KPMG/Ballast Nedam and most recently ING.

Despite these settlements, Transparency International recommends the Netherlands ‘develop a better policy on settlements, including consideration of the role of victims and asset recovery and a sentencing guideline’.

It also says more cases concerning foreign bribery should actually be prosecuted in court with a full trial. In particular, the ING settlement has generated much criticism because no-one will face prosecution for the offences.

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