Bulgaria should step up efforts to detect and enforce its foreign bribery offences, says OECD

22/10/2021 – Detection, enforcement and awareness raising of foreign bribery are severely lacking in Bulgaria and need to be significantly improved. Extensive changes to the legislation concerning the liability of legal persons are also required, according to a new report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

The 44-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Bulgaria’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments.

Whilst welcoming the efforts made by Bulgaria towards the implementation of the Convention and related instruments, the Working Group made a range of recommendations to improve its capacity to combat foreign bribery, including to:

  • urgently take steps to raise awareness of foreign bribery risks among all relevant public and private sector stakeholders;
  • ensure that all foreign bribery allegations are properly assessed by the competent authorities and, where appropriate, pre-trial proceedings are commenced and draw to the attention of prosecutors the importance of taking proceedings against legal persons;
  • address some key elements of its legal framework, particularly in relation to the liability of legal persons; and
  • enact legislation that provides clear and comprehensive protections from retaliation to whistleblowers in the public and private sectors who report suspected acts of foreign bribery.

The report also highlights positive developments, such as the adoption of new or amended legislation (for example updated provisions of the Criminal Code and the adoption of a new money laundering law), efforts in training and awareness-raising for law enforcement, interagency coordination, and the cooperation of the financial intelligence unit with the financial sector. The Working Group will follow up on these issues and how they work in practice.

On 14 October 2021, the OECD Working Group on Bribery adopted the Bulgaria Phase 4 Report. The report lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Bulgaria on pages 53-57, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Bulgaria’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. Bulgaria will provide an oral update within one year (October 2022) on the liability of legal persons and whistleblower protection. Within two years (October 2023), Bulgaria will submit a written report to the Working Group on the implementation of all recommendations and its enforcement efforts. The follow-up report will also be made publicly available.

The report is part of the OECD Working Group on Bribery’s fourth phase of monitoring, launched in 2016. Phase 4 looks at the evaluated country’s particular challenges and positive achievements. It also explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international cooperation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports.

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