The Anti-Corruption 2024 guide covers 22 jurisdictions. The latest guide discusses bribery, influence-peddling, financial record-keeping, offences relating to public officials and lobbying, limitation periods, the geographical reach of legislation, corporate liability, defences and exceptions, safe harbour programmes, protection for whistle-blowers, and landmark investigations.
Last Updated: December 07, 2023
Anti-Corruption: The Global Picture
We are truly delighted to introduce the seventh edition of the Chambers Global Anti-Corruption Guide. The purpose of this Guide is to provide an overview of the current state of anti-bribery and anti-corruption law in a wide variety of countries, as well as offer valuable insights into enforcement policies, trends and potential developments in this area, based on the opinion of leading lawyers in their respective countries.
On 14 September 2022, President Ursula von der Leyen stressed, during her speech on the 2022 State of the European Union, the need to take decisive action against corruption: “I would like to focus on corruption, with all its faces. The face of foreign agents trying to influence our political system. The face of shady companies or foundations abusing public money. (…) That is why in the coming year the Commission will present measures to update our legislative framework for fighting corruption. We will raise standards on offences such as illicit enrichment, trafficking in influence and abuse of power, beyond the more classic offences such as bribery. And we will also propose to include corruption in our human rights sanction regime, our new tool to protect our values abroad”.
A few months later, the revelations, in December 2022, of a corruption scandal involving several European parliamentarians who would have agreed to defend positions favorable to third countries at the European Parliament against remuneration caused a stir. Even if the judicial investigation is still underway, the information made public has already cast a pall of suspicion over all the European Union’s elected representatives. The 2023 Eurobarometer survey on corruption indeed revealed growing skepticism among Europeans. Seven in ten Europeans (70%) believe that corruption is widespread in their country and over four in ten Europeans (45%) consider that the level of corruption has increased in their country. More than half of citizens (60%) think that their government’s efforts fight corruption are not effective. In addition, most European companies (65%) consider that the problem of corruption is widespread in their country.
Strengthening the fight against corruption: assessing the EU legislative and policy framework
In parallel, on 15 December 2022, EY and RAND Europe submitted to the European Commission their final report, which aimed at providing recommendations in the area of corruption prevention and repression and to compare the impacts of different identified policy options. Their report identified core problems, drivers and issues of the EU anti-corruption scheme. Overall, their assessment pointed to some legislative and operational barriers that hinder both the prevention and the fight against corruption in the EU: significant differences in legislative and administrative frameworks at the national level as well as a lack of adequate corruption data collection and monitoring. For instance, bribery of a public agent is punishable by 1 to 15 years’ imprisonment depending on the EU country concerned.
The European Commission’s proposal for a new Directive on the fight against corruption
On 3 May 2023, the European Commission presented its proposal for a new directive on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Union or officials of EU Member States, designed to modernise the existing legal framework.
Drawing lessons from the aforementioned report, the proposal’s first objective is to harmonise the procedures for fighting corruption in the European Union regarding:
The second objective of the proposal is to raise minimum requirements for the prevention of corruption. Member states should therefore take appropriate measures aiming to:
Finally, member states would have to ensure the implementation of one or more bodies specialised in the prevention and the prosecution of corruption, being independent and having enough qualified staff, financial resources and tools to ensure proper administration of their tasks.
This proposal still remains to be negotiated and adopted by the European Parliament and the Council. For its part, the European Public Prosecutor sent a request to the European Commission, the Ministers of Justice and the European Parliament to revise the Regulation on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, to ensure that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office can exercise its jurisdiction over offences such as smuggling networks.
The 2023 Rule of Law Report
In the meantime, on 5 July 2023, the European Commission released its 2023 Rule of Law report, examining rule of law developments in member states under four pillars: justice, anti-corruption, media freedom and pluralism, and broader institutional issues related to checks and balances. The Commission considers that almost 65% of the specific recommendations issued last year to member states have already been followed up, which reflects a positive trend.
The report underlines that in many member states, public procurement and the health sector remain the main areas at high risk of corruption. Other areas highlighted for their corruption risk include environmental and cultural heritage protection as well as the energy sector.
In the wake of these introductory remarks, which are inevitably made from a European perspective, the expert contributions in the following chapters constitute an essential resource, as they give precise insights about what is going on in each country in many different corners of the world.
We express our deep gratitude to all authors for their valuable work.
May practitioners find helpful information in this Guide that will make it easier to identify, understand and manage the legal risks arising from anti-corruption rules around the world.