In the world of international corruption, where deals are made off the books and behind closed doors, it can be difficult to figure out who is paying bribes and how much they are paying.
It is even more difficult to figure out how much a company may have profited from paying those bribes and greasing the palms of corrupt officials. In many countries, the idea of quantifying the proceeds of bribery is perceived as too complicated to be seriously pursued, so penalties may be limited to the amount of the bribe. Such minor penalties rarely dissuade would-be violators from bribing again.
Calculating and confiscating the true proceeds from foreign bribery is integral to the international fight against corruption. Measuring ill-gotten gains is one of the primary ways enforcement agencies can calculate penalties for bribe-payers. Furthermore, the proceeds of bribery can only be confiscated if they are first calculated.
Thanks to a recent study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) (a World Bank-United Nations partnership), law enforcement officials may now find it easier to calculate the proceeds of bribery.
This study, “Identification and Quantification of the Proceeds of Bribery,” is a transnational analysis of existing legal frameworks that seek to calculate gains made by companies that pay bribes. It draws on cases from the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, South Africa and Indonesia to highlight various workable methods to calculate proceeds from bribery and determine what monetary sanctions should be imposed. This report sets forth in practical terms real-life scenarios that can be followed by practitioners.
The study can be accessed here.
Pascale Dubois, above, is the Sanctions Evaluation and Suspension Officer for the World Bank. She joined the World Bank after a ten-year career as a transactional attorney in the private sector. She's a member of the Bars of the State of New York and the District of Columbia and is also a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). She serves as Vice-Chair of the International Anti-Corruption Committee of the ABA Section of International Law, and teaches a course on international anticorruption at Georgetown Law School.