An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Albania

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Public awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in Albania is low, and CSR and RBC remains new concepts for much of the business community. The small level of CSR and RBC engagement in Albania comes primarily from international corporations operating in the energy, telecommunications, heavy industry, and banking sectors, and tends to focus on philanthropy and environmental issues. International organizations have recently improved efforts to promote CSR. Thanks to efforts by the international community and large international companies, the first Albanian CSR network was founded in March 2013 as a business-led, non-profit organization. The American Chamber of Commerce in Albania also formed a subcommittee in 2015 to promote CSR among its members.

Legislation governing CSR, labor, and employment rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection is robust, but enforcement and implementation are inconsistent. The Law on Commercial Companies and Entrepreneurs outlines generic corporate governance and accounting standards. According to that law and the Law on the National Business Registration Center, companies must disclose publicly when they change administrators and shareholders and to disclose financial statements. The Corporate Governance Code for unlisted joint stock companies incorporates the OECD definitions and principles on corporate governance but is not legally binding. The code provides guidance for Albanian companies and aims to provide best-practices while assisting Albanian companies to develop a governance framework.

Albania has been a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2013.

9. Corruption

Endemic corruption continues to undermine the rule of law and jeopardize economic development. Foreign investors cite corruption including in the judiciary, a lack of transparency in public procurement, lack of transparency and competition, informal economy, and poor enforcement of contracts as some of the biggest problems in Albania. Despite some improvement in Albania’s score from 2013 to 2016, progress in tackling corruption has been slow and unsteady. In 2021, Albania’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) score was 35 and its ranking fell by six slots from 104 to 110, a significant decline from the 2016 score and rank of respectively 39 and 83. Albania is still one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, according to the CPI and other observers.

The country has a sound legal framework to prevent conflict of interest and to fight corruption of public officials and politicians, including their family members. However, law enforcement is jeopardized by a heavily corrupt judicial system.

The passage of constitutional amendments in July 2016 to reform the judicial system was a major step forward, and reform, once fully implemented, is expected to position the country as a more attractive destination for international investors. Judicial reform has been described as the most significant development in Albania since the end of communism, and nearly one-third of the constitution was rewritten as part of the effort. The reform also entails the passage of laws to ensure implementation of the constitutional amendments. Judicial reform’s vetting process will ensure that prosecutors and judges with unexplained wealth or insufficient training, or those who have issued questionable verdicts, are removed from the system. As of publication, more than half of the judges and prosecutors who have faced vetting have either failed or resigned. The establishment of the Special Prosecution Office Against Corruption (SPAK) and Organized Crime and of the National Investigation Bureau, two new judicial bodies, will step up the fight against corruption and organized crime. Once fully implemented, judicial reform will discourage corruption, promote foreign and domestic investment, and allow Albania to compete more successfully in the global economy.

The government has ratified several corruption-related international treaties and conventions and is a member of major international organizations and programs dealing with corruption and organized crime. Albania has ratified the Civil Law Convention on Corruption (Council of Europe), the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (Council of Europe), the Additional Protocol to Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (Council of Europe), and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). Albania has also ratified several key conventions in the broader field of economic crime, including the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (2001) and the Convention on Cybercrime (2002). Albania has been a member of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) since the ratification of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption in 2001 and is a member of the Stability Pact Anti-Corruption Initiative (SPAI). Albania is not a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Albania has adopted legislation for the protection of whistleblowers.

To curb corruption, the government announced a new online platform in 2017, “  Shqiperia qe Duam  ” (“The Albania We Want”), which invites citizens to submit complaints and allegations of corruption and misuse of office by government officials. The platform has a dedicated link for businesses. The Integrated Services Delivery Agency (ADISA), a government entity, provides a second online portal to report corruption. Effectiveness of the portal is minimal.

In February 2020, GoA approved the establishment of the Special Anticorruption and Anti-Evasion Unit which operates under the Council of Ministers. The mission of the unit is the coordination between the main public institutions, agencies, and state-owned companies in order to discover, investigate and punish corruption and abusive practices. During 2021, the National Network of Anti-Corruption Coordinators, a structure that is under the Minister of Justice, who also serves as the National Coordinator against corruption, became functional. The coordinators are placed in seventeen institutions that have the highest public perception of corruption. The coordinators collect, process, and analyze complaints filed by the citizens and businesses and report to the law enforcement authorities if necessary.

Despite progress, corruption remains pervasive. Albania has yet to build a solid track record of investigations, prosecution, conviction, and confiscation of criminal assets resulting from corruption-related offences.

Algeria

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Multinational, and particularly U.S. firms operating in Algeria, are spreading the concept of responsible business conduct (RBC), which has traditionally been less common among domestic firms. Companies such as Occidental, Cisco, Microsoft, Boeing, Dow, Halliburton, Pfizer, and Berlitz have supported programs aimed at youth employment, education, and entrepreneurship. RBC activities are gaining acceptance as a way for companies to contribute to local communities while often addressing business needs, such as a better-educated workforce. The national oil and gas company, Sonatrach, funds some social services for its employees and supports desert communities near production sites. Still, many Algerian companies view social programs as the government’s responsibility. While state entities welcome foreign companies’ RBC activities, the government does not factor them into procurement decisions, nor does it require companies to disclose their RBC activities. Algerian laws for consumer and environmental protections exist but are weakly enforced.

Algeria does not adhere to the OECD or UN Guiding Principles and does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Algeria ranks 73 out of 89 countries for resource governance and does not comply with rules set for disclosing environmental impact assessments and mitigation management plans, according to the most recent report by National Resource Governance Index published in 2017.

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

The current anti-corruption law dates to 2006. In 2013, the Algerian government created the Central Office for the Suppression of Corruption (OCRC) to investigate and prosecute any form of bribery in Algeria. The number of cases currently being investigated by the OCRC is not available. In 2010, the government created the National Organization for the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption (ONPLC) as stipulated in the 2006 anti-corruption law. The Chairman and members of this commission are appointed by a presidential decree. The commission studies financial holdings of public officials, though not their relatives, and carries out studies. Since 2013, the Financial Intelligence Unit has been strengthened by new regulations that have given the unit more authority to address illegal monetary transactions and terrorism funding. In 2016, the government updated its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance legislation to bolster the authority of the financial intelligence unit to monitor suspicious financial transactions and refer violations of the law to prosecutorial magistrates. Algeria signed the UN Convention Against Corruption in 2003.

The new Algerian constitution, which the President approved in December 2020, includes provisions that strengthen the role and capacity of anti-corruption bodies, particularly through the creation of the High Authority for Transparency, Prevention, and Fight against Corruption. This body is tasked with developing and enabling the implementation of a national strategy for transparency and preventing and combatting corruption.

The Algerian government does not require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials. The use of internal controls against bribery of government officials varies by company, with some upholding those standards and others rumored to offer bribes. Algeria is not a participant in regional or international anti-corruption initiatives. Algeria does not provide protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption. While whistleblower protections for Algerian citizens who report corruption exist, members of Algeria’s anti-corruption bodies believe they need to be strengthened to be effective.

International and Algerian economic operators have identified corruption as a challenge for FDI. They indicate that foreign companies with strict compliance standards cannot effectively compete against companies which can offer special incentives to those making decisions about contract awards. Economic operators have also indicated that complex bureaucratic procedures are sometimes manipulated by political actors to ensure economic benefits accrue to favored individuals in a non-transparent way. Anti-corruption efforts have so far focused more on prosecuting previous acts of corruption rather than on institutional reforms to reduce the incentives and opportunities for corruption. In October 2019, the government adopted legislation which allowed police to launch anti-corruption investigations without first receiving a formal complaint against the entity in question. Proponents argued the measure is necessary given Algeria’s weak whistle blower protections.

Currently the government is working with international partners to update legal mechanisms to deal with corruption issues. The government also created a new institution to target and deter the practice of overbilling on invoices, which has been used to unlawfully transfer foreign currency out of the country.

The government imprisoned numerous prominent economic and political figures in 2019 and 2020 as part of an anti-corruption campaign. Some operators report that fear of being accused of corruption has made some officials less willing to make decisions, delaying some investment approvals. Corruption cases that have reached trial deal largely with state investment in the automotive, telecommunications, public works, and hydrocarbons sectors, though other cases are reportedly under investigation.

Andorra

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Andorra has taken steps to promote responsible business conduct, including Law 35/2008, which establishes a protocol for non-discrimination and equal opportunities for men and women and a gender-equality law approved in April 2022 that among other requirements sets a 60% ceiling for gender representation on governing boards.

Over the years, the Andorran banking sector has been consolidating its voluntary responsible business conduct practices, mainly through their foundations. Rather than focus on a due diligence approach to lower risks, as promoted by international guidelines such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises or UN Guidance on Business and Human Rights, the banking sector establishes private initiatives to promote responsible business conduct in a variety of areas like culture, sports, solidarity, education, and the environment. There are no reported cases of human or labor rights concerns related to responsible business conduct.

9. Corruption

Andorra’s laws penalize corruption, money laundering, drug trafficking, hostage taking, sale of illegal arms, prostitution, terrorism, as well as the financing of terrorism. Additional amendments were added in 2008, 2014, 2015, and 2016 to the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code that modify and introduce money laundering and terrorism financing provisions.

In 1994, Andorra joined the Council of Europe, an institution that oversees the defense of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. That same year, the Justice Ministers of the Member States decided to fight corruption at the European level after considering that the phenomenon posed a serious threat to the stability of democratic institutions.

In early 2005, Andorra joined the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in its fight against corruption. Andorra has gradually built its internal regulations and relevant legal instruments and has undertaken numerous initiatives to improve the State’s response to reprehensible acts and conduct committed internally and internationally.

Andorra created the Unit for the Prevention and the Fight against Corruption (UPLC) in 2008 to centralize and coordinate actions that might concern local administrations, national bodies, and entities with an international scope. UPLC is responsible for implementing the recommendations made by GRECO.

Andorra has not signed the UN Anticorruption Convention or the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

There are explicitly defined rules for the ethical behavior of all participating bodies within the Andorran financial system. The Andorran Financial Authority (AFA) has also established rules regarding ethical behavior in the financial system.

The Andorran government modified and implemented new laws to comply with international corruption standards. The Andorran Financial Intelligence Unit (UIFAND), created in 2000 is an independent body charged with mitigating money laundering and terrorist funding ( www.uifand.ad ).

Resources to Report Corruption:

Unitat de Prevencio i Lluita contra la Corrupcio
Ministeri de Justicia i Interior
Govern d’Andorra
Ctra.de l’Obac s/n
AD700 Escaldes-Engordany
Phone: +376 875 700
Email: uplc_govern@govern.ad 

Angola

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of expectations of or standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) or obligation to conduct due diligence to ensure no harm with regards to environment, social and governance issues. Projects that could have an impact on the environment are subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) depending on their nature, size or location, on a case-by-case basis. Presidential Decree No 117/20 of April 22, 2021 establishes the:

  • Rules and procedures for EIAs for public and private projects.
  • Environmental licensing procedure for activities that are likely to cause significant environmental and social impacts.
  • Applicable fees.
  • Fines for non-compliance.

The government has few initiatives to promote responsible business conduct. In March 2019, the UNDP launched the National Network of Corporate Social Responsibility, “RARSE,” to create a platform to reconcile responsible business conduct with the needs of the population. The government, through the Ministry of Education, also held a campaign under the theme, “Countries that have a good education, that enforce laws, condemn corruption, privilege and practice citizenship, have as a consequence successful social and economic development” in 2020.

The government has enacted laws to prevent labor by children under 14 and forced labor, although resource limitations hinder adequate enforcement. In June 2018, the government passed a National Action Plan for the Eradication of Child Labor (PANETI) (2018-2022) to eradicate the worst forms of child labor. This plan was updated on March 17, 2022 and is implemented by the Multisectoral Commission for the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor. The National Plan aims to eliminate child labor in Angola, by creating strategies, prevention policies, a favorable environment for the harmonious development of children, and creating institutional capacity to solve the problem of worst forms of child labor in the country.

With limitations, the laws protect the rights to form unions, collectively bargain, and strike. Government interference in some strikes has been reported. The Ministry of Public Administration, Employment, and Social Security has a hotline for workers who believe their rights have been infringed. Angola’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry established the Principles of Ethical Business in Angola.

The GRA does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons but is made significant efforts to do so, especially considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity. Those efforts led to Angola remain on Tier 2 in 2021. Some of the efforts taken by Angolan authorities include convicting multiple traffickers, including five complicit officials, and sentencing all to imprisonment; offering long-term protective services that incentivized victims to participate in trials against their traffickers; dedicating funds specifically for anti-trafficking efforts, including for implementation of the national action plan; and conducting public awareness campaigns against trafficking.

In 2015, Angola organized an interagency technical working group to explore Angola’s possible membership in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Angola formally announced its intention to join the EITI in September 2020 and in November 2021 announced its intention to formally present its candidacy in March 2022. Angola has been a member of the Kimberley Process (KP) since 2003 and chaired the KP in 2015. Angola is not a party to the WTO’s GPA and does not adhere to the OECD guidelines on corporate for SOEs.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a strong impediment to doing business in Angola and has had a corrosive impact on international market investment opportunities and on the broader business climate. The Lourenço administration has developed a comprehensive anti-corruption and anti-money laundering legal framework, but implementation remains a challenge. Angola has made several arrests of former officials and family members of the former president who were accused of embezzling state funds and has made a concerted effort to recover assets it accuses those individuals of stealing.

Some of the recent anti-corruption legislation includes:

  • The revised Criminal Law Code and Criminal Procedure Code, which both entered into force in February 2021: The updated laws include corporate criminal liability; harsh penalties for active and passive corruption by public officials, their family members, and political parties; criminalization of private sector corruption; and seizure of proceeds.
  • The updated Public Procurement Law, which entered into force on December 23, 2020, emphasizes the management of potential conflicts of interest in awarding public contracts, including the requirement for foreign investors to have a local partner, which historically made procurement ripe for bribery and kickbacks.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Law, which came into force on January 1, 2020, provides a protection system – including anonymity – for victims, witnesses, and the accused during judicial proceedings that involve corruption and/or money laundering allegations.

The government does not require the private sector to establish internal codes of conduct and does not provide a mechanism for reporting irregularities related to public officials.

U.S. firms in Angola are aware of cases of corruption in Angola despite efforts to combat the phenomenon and view it as a significant impediment to FDI. Corruption in Angola is pervasive in public institutions, government procurement customs and taxation. Foreign investors seeking to do business in Angola must remain mindful of the corruption risks and the extraterritorial reach of the U.S. FCPA.

Antigua and Barbuda

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct by producers and consumers is positively regarded in Antigua and Barbuda. The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.

The NGO community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental, and community projects. The government at times partners with NGOs in their activities and encourages philanthropy.

Antigua and Barbuda is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implements these laws if corruption is proven. Allegations of corruption against government officials in Antigua and Barbuda are common. Both major political parties frequently accuse the other of corruption, but investigations yield few results. Antigua and Barbuda is party to the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption and the UN Anti-Corruption Convention.

The Integrity in Public Life Act requires all public officials to disclose all income, assets (including those of spouses and children), and personal gifts received while in public office. An integrity commission, established by the act and appointed by the Governor General, receives and investigates complaints regarding noncompliance with or violations of this law or of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As the only agency charged with combatting corruption, the commission was independent but understaffed and under-resourced. Critics stated the legislation was inadequately enforced and that the act should be strengthened.

The Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy is the independent law enforcement agency with specific authority to investigate reports of suspicious activity concerning specified offenses and the proceeds of crime.

The Freedom of Information Act granted citizens the statutory right to access official documents from public authorities and agencies and created a commissioner to oversee the process. In practice, citizens found it difficult to obtain documents, possibly due to government funding constraints rather than obstruction. The act created a special unit mandated to monitor and verify disclosures. By law, the disclosures are not public. There are criminal and administrative sanctions for noncompliance.

Argentina

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is an increasing awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and responsible business conduct (RBC) among both producers and consumers in Argentina. RBC and CSR practices are welcomed by beneficiary communities throughout Argentina. There are many institutes that promote RBC and CSR in Argentina, the most prominent being the Argentine Institute for Business Social Responsibility (http://www.iarse.org/ ), which has been working in the country for 20 years and includes among its members many of the most important companies in Argentina.

Argentina is a member of the United Nation’s Global Compact. Established in April 2004, the Global Compact Network Argentina is a business-led network with a multi-stakeholder governing body elected for two-year terms by active participants. The network is supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Argentina in close collaboration with other UN Agencies. The Global Compact Network Argentina is the most important RBC/CSR initiative in the country with a presence in more than 20 provinces. More information on the initiative can be found at: http://pactoglobal.org.ar .

Foreign and local enterprises tend to follow generally accepted CSR/RBC principles. Argentina subscribed to the Declaration on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in April 1997.

Many provinces, such as Mendoza and Neuquén, have or are in the process of enacting a provincial CSR/RBC law. There have been many previously unsuccessful attempts to pass a CSR/RBC law. Distrust over the State’s role in private companies had been the main concern for legislators opposed to these bills.

In February 2019, the Argentine government joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).  Argentina published its first report in 2020 (https://eiti.org/document/argentina-2018-eiti-report ). Argentina´s next Validation against the 2019 EITI Standard started January 1, 2022.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

The Government of Argentina created its national climate strategy, the National Plan for Adaptation and Mitigation (PANyMCC), to implement its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). This plan calls for developing a long-term strategy under the Paris Agreement as well as delineating the revision, improvement, and monitoring of the Sector Action Plans for the main emissions sectors. Multiple laws exist to control water and air pollution and to protect natural ecosystems. Despite the existing strategy and monitoring framework, stakeholders note limited transparency around both climate-related and energy sector planning and policymaking.

Challenges in the business and investment climate impact the country’s attractiveness for developing renewable energy projects, despite the potential for both wind and solar power. The fossil fuel industry is strongly supported by the government through public subsidies, which impair the cost-competitiveness of renewable energy technologies.

Renewable energy development is still a focus for the government. Law 27.191 set a goal that 20 percent of the energy matrix needed to come from renewable sources by 2025, this was later updated in the energy sector’s action plan under PANyMCC to 25 percent by 2030. The 2021 updated NDC submitted at COP26 set a goal of 30 percent by 2030. Several tax benefits exist to support renewable energy projects through Law 27.191. No new projects have been approved since the previous administration through the RenovAr program, which offered IFC funding and World Bank guarantees. The RenovAr program has faced multiple hurdles such as increased capital costs, currency volatility, and the impact of capital controls. Given the current state of energy transmission infrastructure in the country, smaller scale projects for on-site energy consumption are more likely to succeed.

The Government of Argentina has historically focused on the transportation sector by encouraging the use of biofuels and electric vehicles. The country requires all gasoline to be a mixture between petroleum products and biofuels. In 2021, the Biofuels Regulatory Framework extended tax exemptions and benefits for biofuel producers but at the same time reduced the quantity of biofuels that are required to be used. The reduction in biofuel use is inconsistent with the climate change mitigation commitments Argentina has made.

While still not approved, the draft Law for the Promotion of Sustainable Mobility includes incentives and objectives to promote the use of technologies with less environmental impact for mobility. The proposed scheme would be temporary but offers benefits over 20 years for the production and importation of electric vehicles and parts.

There are regulatory requirements for labelling of products according to energy efficiency standards. Products including home construction supplies, vehicles, gas powered appliances, and domestic electronics are required to be labeled, some with minimum efficiency standards. Additionally, incandescent light bulbs are no longer permitted to be produced or imported into the country to encourage the use of more energy-efficient lighting sources. More information on labeling standards can be found here: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/economia/energia/eficiencia-energetica/etiquetado-en-eficiencia-energetica

9. Corruption

Argentina’s legal system incorporates several measures to address public sector corruption. The foundational law is the 1999 Public Ethics Law (Law 25,188), the full text of which can be found at: http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/verNorma.do?id=60847 . A March 2019 report by the OECD’s Directorate for Public Governance underscored, however, that the law is heterogeneously implemented across branches of the government and that the legislative branch has not designated an application authority, approved an implementing regulation, or specified sanctions. It also noted that Argentina has a regulation on lobbying, but that it only applies to the executive branch, and only requires officials to disclose meetings with lobbyists. With regards to political parties, the report noted anonymous campaign donations are banned, but 90 percent of all donations in Argentina are made in cash, making it impossible to identify donors. Furthermore, the existing regulations have insufficient controls and sanctions, and leave gaps with provincial regulations that could be exploited.

Within the executive branch, the government institutions tasked with combatting corruption include the Anti-Corruption Office (ACO), the National Auditor General, and the General Comptroller’s Office. Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, and the Ministry of Justice’s ACO is responsible for analyzing and investigating federal executive branch officials based on their financial disclosure forms—which require the disclosure of assets directly owned by immediate family members. The ACO is also responsible for investigating corruption within the federal executive branch or in matters involving federal funds, except for funds transferred to the provinces. While the ACO does not have authority to independently prosecute cases, it can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the plaintiff and request that a judge initiate a case.

Argentina enacted a new Corporate Criminal Liability Law in November 2017 following the advice of the OECD to comply with its Anti-Bribery Convention. The full text of Law 27,401 can be found at: http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/anexos/295000-299999/296846/norma.htm  . The new law entered into force in early 2018. It extends anti-bribery criminal sanctions to corporations, whereas previously they only applied to individuals; expands the definition of prohibited conduct, including illegal enrichment of public officials; and allows Argentina to hold Argentines responsible for foreign bribery. Sanctions include fines and blacklisting from public contracts. Argentina also enacted an express prohibition on the tax deductibility of bribes.

Official corruption remains a serious challenge in Argentina. In its March 2017 report, the OECD expressed concern about Argentina’s enforcement of foreign bribery laws, inefficiencies in the judicial system, politicization, and perceived lack of independence at the Attorney General’s Office, and lack of training and awareness for judges and prosecutors. According to the World Bank’s worldwide governance indicators, corruption remains an area of concern in Argentina. In the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Argentina ranked 96 out of 180 countries in 2020, dropping 12 places compared to 2019. Allegations of corruption in provincial as well as federal courts remained frequent. Few Argentine companies have implemented anti-foreign bribery measures beyond limited codes of ethics.

In September 2016, Congress passed a law on public access to information. The law explicitly applies to all three branches of the federal government, the public justice offices, and entities such as businesses, political parties, universities, and trade associations that receive public funding. It requires these institutions to respond to citizen requests for public information within 15 days, with an additional 15-day extension available for “exceptional” circumstances. Sanctions apply for noncompliance. As mandated by the law, the executive branch created the Agency for Access to Public Information in 2017, an autonomous office that oversees access to information. In early 2016, the Argentine government reaffirmed its commitment to the Open Government Partnership (OGP), became a founding member of the Global Anti-Corruption Coalition, and reengaged the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

Argentina is a party to the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Convention against Corruption. It ratified in 2001 the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Anti-Bribery Convention). Argentina also signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and participates in UNCAC’s Conference of State Parties. Argentina also participates in the Mechanism for Follow-up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC).

Since Argentina became a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, allegations of Argentine individuals or companies bribing foreign officials have surfaced. A March 2017 report by the OECD Working Group on Bribery indicated there were 13 known foreign bribery allegations involving Argentine companies and individuals as of that date. According to the report, Argentine authorities investigated and closed some of the allegations and declined to investigate others. The authorities determined some allegations did not involve foreign bribery but rather other offenses. Several such allegations remained under investigation.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

Felix Pablo Crous
Director
Government of Argentina Anti-Corruption Office
Oficina Anticorrupción, 25 de Mayo 544, C1002ABL, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.
Phone: +54 11 5300 4100
Email:  anticorrupcion@jus.gov.ar  and http://denuncias.anticorrupcion.gob.ar/ 

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:
Poder Ciudadano (Local Transparency International Affiliate)
Piedras 547, C1070AAK, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires
Phone: +54 11 4331 4925 ext. 225
Fax: +54 11 4331 4925
Email: comunicaciones@poderciudadano.org 
Website: http://www.poderciudadano.org 

Armenia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Comprehension of responsible business conduct (RBC) in Armenia is still developing, but several larger companies with foreign ownership or management have been operating under the concept in recent years. Initiatives, where they do exist, are primarily limited to corporate social responsibility efforts. However, RBC programs that do exist are viewed favorably. Some civil society groups and business associations are playing a more active role to promote RBC and develop awareness. Major pillars of corporate governance in Armenia include the Law on Joint Stock Companies, the Law on Banks and Banking Activity, the Law on Securities Market, and a Corporate Governance Code. International observers note inconsistencies in this legislation and generally rate corporate governance practices as weak to fair. Specific areas for potential improvement cited by the local business community include improving internal and external auditing for firms, enhancing the powers of independent directors on company boards, and boosting shareholders’ rights. Armenia has outlined commitments to corporate governance reforms, including with regard to mandatory audit, accounting, and financial reporting, within the context of an ongoing Stand-By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund.

Armenia joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in March 2017 as a candidate country. The first EITI national report for Armenia was published in January 2019. As part of its EITI membership aspirations, the government in March 2018 adopted a roadmap to disclose beneficial owners in the metal ore mining industry. Relevant implementing legislation, including for beneficial ownership disclosure, was adopted in 2019.

Armenia is not a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, and no Armenian party is a member of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers’ Association.

Domestic laws and regulations related to labor, employment rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection are not always enforced effectively. These laws and regulations cannot be waived to attract foreign investment.

9. Corruption

Australia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is general business awareness and promotion of responsible business conduct (RBC) in Australia. The Commonwealth Government states that companies operating in Australia and Australian companies operating overseas are expected to act in accordance with the principles set out in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and to perform to the standards they suggest. In seeking to promote the OECD Guidelines, the Commonwealth Government maintains a National Contact Point (NCP), the current NCP being currently the General Manager of the Foreign Investment and Trade Policy Division at the Commonwealth Treasury, who is able to draw on expertise from other government agencies through an informal inter-governmental network. An NCP Web site links to the “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas” noting that the objective is to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral sourcing practices. The Commonwealth Government’s export credit agency, EFA, also promotes the OECD Guidelines as the key set of recommendations on responsible business conduct addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries.

Australian companies have very few instances of human rights or labor rights abuses and domestic law prohibits such actions. In 2018 the Australian parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act, new legislation requiring large companies to assess risks of modern slavery in their supply chains and take action to limit these risks.

Australia began implementing the principles of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2016.

Australia has ratified the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, and was a founding member of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association.

9. Corruption

Australia maintains a comprehensive system of laws and regulations designed to counter corruption. In addition, the government procurement system is generally transparent and well regulated. Corruption has not been a factor cited by U.S. businesses as a disincentive to investing in Australia, nor to exporting goods and services to Australia. Non-governmental organizations interested in monitoring the global development or anti-corruption measures, including Transparency International, operate freely in Australia, and Australia is perceived internationally as having low corruption levels.

Australia is an active participant in international efforts to end the bribery of foreign officials. Legislation exists to give effect to the anti-bribery convention stemming from the OECD 1996 Ministerial Commitment to Criminalize Transnational Bribery. Legislation explicitly disallows tax deductions for bribes of foreign officials. At the Commonwealth level, enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations is the responsibility of the Attorney General’s Department.

The Attorney-General’s Department plays an active role in combating corruption through developing domestic policy on anti-corruption and engagement in a range of international anti-corruption forums. These include the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption Working Groups. Australia is a member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and a party to the key international conventions concerned with combating foreign bribery, including the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (Anti-Bribery Convention).

The legislation covering bribery of foreign officials is the Criminal Code Act 1995. Under Australian law, it is an offense to bribe a foreign public official, even if a bribe may be seen to be customary, necessary, or required. The maximum penalty for an individual is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of AUD 2. million (approximately USD 1.6 million). For a corporate entity, the maximum penalty is the greatest of: 1) AUD 22.2 million (approximately USD 16.4 million); 2) three times the value of the benefits obtained; or 3) 10 percent of the previous 12-month turnover of the company concerned.

A number of national and state-level agencies exist to combat corruption of public officials and ensure transparency and probity in government systems. The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) has the mandate to prevent, detect, and investigate serious and systemic corruption issues in the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, the CrimTrac Agency, and prescribed aspects of the Department of Agriculture.

Various independent commissions exist at the state level to investigate instances of corruption. Details of these bodies are provided below.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Australia has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption and is a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Resources to Report Corruption

Western Australia – Corruption and Crime Commission
86 St Georges Terrace
Perth, Western Australia
Tel. +61 8 9215 4888
https://www.ccc.wa.gov.au/ 

Queensland – Corruption and Crime Commission
Level 2, North Tower Green Square
515 St Pauls Terrace
Fortitude Valley, Queensland
Tel. +61 7 3360 6060
https://www.ccc.qld.gov.au/ 

Victoria – Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins Street
Melbourne, Victoria
Tel. +61 1300 735 135
https://ibac.vic.gov.au 

New South Wales – Independent Commission against Corruption
Level 7, 255 Elizabeth Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel. +61 2 8281 5999
https://www.icac.nsw.gov.au/ 

South Australia – Independent Commission against Corruption
Level 1, 55 Currie Street
Adelaide, South Australia
Tel. +61 8 8463 5173
https://icac.sa.gov.au 

Austria

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Austrian Responsible Business Conduct (RBC)/Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards are laid out in the Austrian Corporate Governance Codex, which is based on the EU Commission’s 2011 “Strategy for Corporate Social Responsibility.” The Austrian Standards Institute’s ONR 192500 acts as the main guidance for CSR and is based on the EU Commission’s published Strategy, which is also compliant with UN guidelines. Major Austrian companies follow generally accepted CSR principles and publish a CSR chapter in their annual reports; many also provide information on their health, safety, security, and environmental activities.

Austria adheres to the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Ministry for Labor, Social Affairs, Health, and Consumer Protection is represented in national and international CSR-relevant associations and supports CSR initiatives while working closely together with the Austrian Standards Institute.

The Austrian export credit agency promotes information on CSR issues, principles and standards, including the OECD Guidelines, on its website.

https://www.oekb.at/en/oekb-group/our-claim/corporate-governance.html 

Austria is a signatory to the Montreaux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, which it ratified in 2008.

9. Corruption

Austria is a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and also ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. As part of the UNCAC ratification process, Austria has implemented a national anti-corruption strategy. Central elements of the strategy are promoting transparency in public sector decisions and raising awareness of corruption. Austria ranked 13th (out of 180 countries) in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index. Despite this ranking, the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) February 2021 report criticized Austria for only fully implementing two of 19 recommendations since the last report was issued in 2017. The criticism largely focused on a lack of transparency on lobbying, receipt of donations, and the income of Members of Parliament.

Bribery of public officials, their family members and political parties, is covered under the Austrian Criminal Code, and corruption does not significantly affect business in Austria. However, the public’s belief in the integrity of the political system was shaken by the 2019 Ibiza scandal, when a 2017 video surfaced in which Vice Chancellor and chair of the right populist Freedom Party (FPOe) Heinz Christian Strache and the FPOe floor leader in Parliament Johann Gudenus were filmed discussing providing government contracts in exchange for favors and political party donations with a woman posing as the niece of a Russian oligarch. This was compounded by further revelations in 2019 that the FPOe had allegedly promised gambling licenses to Casinos Austria in exchange for placing a party loyalist on the company’s executive board. Strache was convicted of corruption and bribery by the Vienna District Court in August 2021 following a separate health care fraud investigation. In October 2021, then-Chancellor Sebastian Kurz of the center-right People’s Party (OeVP) announced his resignation amid allegations that, while he was Foreign Minister in 2016, his inner circle paid newspapers to publish falsified opinion polls in his favor; that investigation by anti-corruption prosecutors is still ongoing. Finance Minister Bluemel (OeVP) also resigned, and prosecutors continue to investigate allegations that he may have facilitated political party donations by Casinos Austria subsidiary Novomatic, in exchange for government assistance with the company’s tax problems.

Anti-corruption cases are often characterized by slow-moving investigations and trials that drag on for years. The trial of former Finance Minister Grasser, which started in 2017, concluded in late 2020, with Grasser receiving a sentence of eight years in prison from the trial court judge. The official verdict was published in January 2022, and Grasser is expected to appeal the sentence.

Bribing members of Parliament is considered a criminal offense, and accepting a bribe is a punishable offense with the sentence varying depending on the amount of the bribe. The 2018 Austrian Federal Contracts Act implements EU guidelines prohibiting participating in public procurement contracts if there is a potential conflict of interest and requires measures to be put in place to detect and prevent such conflicts of interest. This required public authorities to set up compliance management systems or amend their existing structures accordingly. Virtually all Austrian companies have internal codes of conduct governing bribery and potential conflicts of interest.

Corruption provisions in Austria’s Criminal Code cover managers of Austrian public enterprises, civil servants, and other officials (with functions in legislation, administration, or justice on behalf of Austria, in a foreign country, or an international organization), representatives of public companies, members of parliament, government members, and mayors. The term “corruption” includes the following in the Austrian interpretation: active and passive bribery; illicit intervention; and abuse of office. Corruption can sometimes include a private manager’s fraud, embezzlement, or breach of trust.

Criminal penalties for corruption include imprisonment ranging from six months to ten years, depending on the severity of the offence. Jurisdiction for corruption investigations rests with the Austrian Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption and covers corruption taking place both within and outside the country. The Lobbying Act of 2013 introduced binding rules of conduct for lobbying. It requires domestic and foreign organizations to register with the Austrian Ministry of Justice. Financing of political parties requires disclosure of donations exceeding EUR 2,500 (USD 2,950). No donor is allowed to give more than EUR 7,500 (USD 8,850) and total donations to one political party may not exceed EUR 750,000 (USD 885,000) in a single year. Foreigners are prohibited from making donations to political parties. Private companies are subject to the Austrian Act on Corporate Criminal Liability, which makes companies liable for active and passive criminal offences. Penalties include fines up to EUR 1.8 million (USD 2.1 million).

To date, U.S. companies have not reported any instances of corruption inhibiting FDI.

Azerbaijan

8. Responsible Business Conduct

 

Responsible business conduct (RBC) is a relatively new concept in Azerbaijan.  Producers and consumers tend not to prioritize responsible business conduct, including environmental, social, and governance issues.  No information is available on legal corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders in Azerbaijan.  Larger foreign entities tend to follow generally accepted RBC principles consistent with parent company guidelines and aim to educate their local partners, who generally consider basic charitable donations and paying taxes as acts of social responsibility.

AmCham established a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee in October 2011 to encourage companies to embrace social responsibility through activities and dialogue with relevant stakeholders.  AmCham also published a corporate social responsibility guide on CSR for businesses in Azerbaijan.  In 2011, the Economy Ministry established standards for corporate governance, which included an evaluation methodology for these standards and a code of ethical behavior.  The Economy Ministry has been tasked with explaining the importance of corporate governance standards to entrepreneurs.  Some companies report that government restrictions on NGO registration have complicated CSR corporate social responsibility efforts.

Azerbaijan’s Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) status was downgraded from “compliant” to “candidate” in April 2015, due to concerns about Azerbaijani civil society’s ability to engage critically in the EITI process.  Following the EITI Secretariat’s evaluation in March 2017 that Azerbaijan had not sufficiently implemented required “corrective actions,” Azerbaijan withdrew from the EITI and established a domestic Extractive Industries Transparency Commission in April 2017 to ensure transparency and accountability in the extractive industries of the country.  The Commission has published two Reports on Transparency in the Extractive Industries but has not met since 2019 and does not conform with EITI standards.

Azerbaijan has signed and ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.  In its 2017 Nationally Determined Contributions, the country outlined climate change mitigation actions in several sectors and set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 35 percent (from 1990 levels) by 2030.  

9. Corruption

Corruption is a major challenge for firms operating in Azerbaijan and is a barrier to foreign investment despite government efforts to reduce low-level corruption.  Azerbaijan does not require that private companies establish internal codes of conduct to prohibit bribery of public officials, nor does it provide protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.  U.S. firms have identified corruption in government procurement, licensing, dispute settlement, regulation, customs, and taxation as significant obstacles to investment.

The Azerbaijani government publicly acknowledges problems with corruption but does not effectively or consistently enforce anticorruption laws and regulations.  Azerbaijan has made modest progress in implementing a 2005 Anti-corruption Law, which created a commission with the authority to require full financial disclosure from government officials.  The government has achieved a degree of success reducing red tape and opportunities for bribery through a focus on e-government and government service delivery through centralized ASAN service centers, which first opened in February 2013.  ASAN centers provide more transparent, efficient, and accountable services through a “one window” model that reduces opportunities for rent-seeking and petty government corruption and have become a model for other initiatives aimed at improving government service delivery.

Despite progress in reducing corruption in public services delivery, the civil service, public procurement apparatus, and the judiciary still suffer from corruption.  Tax reforms announced in January 2019 were aimed partially at reducing corruption in tax administration and received praise from the local business community.

Azerbaijan signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention and is a signatory to the Council of Europe Criminal and Civil Law Conventions.  Azerbaijan is not currently a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Bahrain

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Ministry of Labour and Social Development in 2011 authorized the creation of the Bahrain Corporate Social Responsibility Society (BCSRS) as a social and cultural entity. Though there are no measures in Bahrain to compel businesses to follow codes of responsible business conduct, the BCSRS has sought to raise awareness of corporate social responsibility in the business community, and in 2021 hosted the GCC International Conference on Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development. The Society is a founding member of the Arab Association for Social Responsibility, which includes representatives of most Arab countries.

In 2003, Bahrain established a National Steering Committee on Corporate Governance to improve corporate governance practices. The MoICT promulgated the new Corporate Governance Code pursuant to Decree No. 19 of 2018. The new code expanded the base of companies obligated to implement responsible governance, as per the country’s Corporate Governance Code issued in 2010, to include all locally incorporated closed joint stock companies. The law stipulates minimum standards required for corporate governance and applies to all companies incorporated in Bahrain, other than companies that provide regulated financial services licensed by the CBB.

The GOB drafted a Corporate Governance Code to establish a set of best practices for corporate governance and provide protection for investors and other company stakeholders through compliance with those principles. The GOB enforces the code through a combined monitoring system comprising the MoICT, CBB, Bahrain Stock Exchange (BSE), Bahrain Courts, and other professional firms, including auditors, lawyers, and investment advisers. The code does not create new penalties for non-complying companies, but states that the MoICT (working closely with the CBB and the BSE) may exercise penalty powers granted to it under the Commercial Companies Law 2001.

The GOB has put in place advanced regulations and laws protecting labor rights, including vulnerable categories such as migrant workers from South and Southeast Asia. Despite legislative guarantees of certain rights, workers may be exposed to unfair labor practices such as unpaid overtime, denied vacation, or nonpayment of wages. Labor courts have not been fully effective in settling labor disputes between employers and employees. However, there have been reports of cases that were settled in favor of employees in Bahraini labor courts. Bahrain is a class five country on the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Global Rights Index for freedom of association and workers’ rights, with the index ranging from one to five in ascending order from best to worst.

Beginning in 2022, all companies must integrate into the Wage Protection System (WPS) to pay employees’ salaries via prepaid card or financial transfers through a bank or financial institution approved by the Central Bank of Bahrain. Domestic workers and Flexi-Permit holders are exempt from the mandate. The LMRA has the authority to review employer-employee transactions in the system.

Law Number 35 of 2012, the Consumer Protection Law, ensures quality control, combats unfair business practices, and imposes sanctions for breaches of the law’s provisions. MoICT is highly effective in implementing the law.

Bahrain’s amended Corporate Governance Law enhances transparency and ethical business conduct standards. Among the changes, the GOB urged companies to submit audited ratified accounts to the MoICT.

The GOB does not maintain a National Contact Point (NCP) for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines, nor does it participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Bahrain’s Vision 2030 outlines measures to protect the natural environment, reduce carbon emissions, minimize pollution, and promote sustainable energy. Bahrain’s Sustainable Energy Authority (SEA), within the Ministry of Electricity and Water Affairs, designs energy efficiency policies and promotes renewable energy technologies that support Bahrain’s long-term climate action and environmental protection ambitions. Endorsed by Bahrain’s Cabinet and monitored by SEA, the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (NEEAP) and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) set national energy efficiency and national renewable energy 2025 targets of 6 and 5 percent, respectively, with the NREAP target increasing to 10 percent by 2035.

9. Corruption

Senior GOB officials have advocated publicly to reduce corruption. Legislation countering corruption is outlined in Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 and National Anti-Corruption Strategy. Bahrain joined the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2003. Bahrain ratified its penal code on combatting bribery in the public and private sectors in 2008, mandating criminal penalties for official corruption. In December 2013, the Ministry of Interior launched the National Strategy to Combat Corruption. Under Bahraini law, government employees are subject to prosecution and punishments of up to 10 years imprisonment if they use their positions to engage in embezzlement or bribery, either directly or indirectly. The law does not require GOB officials to make financial disclosures. In 2010, Bahrain ratified the UNCAC and the Arab Convention Against Corruption, and in 2016, joined the International Anti-Corruption Academy. In December 2021, the Ministry of Interior General Directorate of Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security initiated 96 embezzlement, bribery and abuse of authority cases and three economic infractions that were referred from the Cabinet. In January 2022, the Public Prosecution Office referred seven corruption cases, 12 tax evasion and 10 money laundering cases to the courts, in addition to two tax evasion cases and five money laundering cases that have been pending since 2021. Giving or accepting a bribe is illegal. The GOB, however, has not fully implemented the law, and some officials reportedly continue to engage in corrupt practices with impunity.

The National Audit Office, established in 2002, is mandated to publish annual reports that highlight fiscal irregularities within GOB ministries and other public sector entities. The reports enable legislators to exercise oversight and call for investigations of fiscal discrepancies in GOB accounts. In 2013, the Crown Prince established an Investigation Committee to oversee cases noted in the National Audit Office annual report, which lists violations by GOB state bodies. On March 1, 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa stressed the importance of consolidating responsibility and accountability to protect public funds and directed all agencies to cooperate with the National Audit Office.

The Minister for Follow-Up Affairs was designated in 2015 to execute recommendations made in that year’s National Audit Office annual report. The Crown Prince, who concurrently has served as Prime Minister since November 2020, urged all GOB entities and the COR to work closely to implement the report’s recommendations.

The Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Corruption and Economic and Electronic Security Directorate signed an MOU with the United Nations Development Programme to enhance the anti-corruption directorate’s capabilities.

Bahrain has conflict-of-interest laws in place, however, their application in awarding contacts is not fully enforced.

Local non-governmental organizations generally do not focus on corruption-related issues, though civil society activists have spoken out against corrupt practices in the public sector.

Few cases have been registered by U.S. companies reporting corruption as an obstacle to their investments in Bahrain.

Bahrain signed and ratified the United Nations Anticorruption Convention in 2005 and 2010, respectively. Bahrain, however, is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. In 2018, Bahrain joined the OECD’s Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS).

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies responsible for combating corruption:

General Directorate of Anti- Corruption & Economic & Electronic Security
Ministry of Interior
P. O. Box 26698, Manama, Bahrain
Hotline: 992

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Dr. Hussain al-Rubaie
President
Bahrain Transparency Society
P.O. Box 26059
Adliya, Bahrain
Phone: +973 39642452

 

Bangladesh

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The business community is increasingly aware of and engaged in responsible business conduct (RBC) activities with multinational firms leading the way. While many firms in Bangladesh fall short on RBC activities and instead often focus on philanthropic giving, some of the leading local conglomerates have begun to incorporate increasingly rigorous environmental and safety standards in their workplaces. U.S. companies present in Bangladesh maintain diverse RBC activities. Consumers in Bangladesh are generally less aware of RBC, and consumers and shareholders exert little pressure on companies to engage in RBC activities.

While many international firms are aware of OECD guidelines and international best practices concerning RBC, many local firms have limited familiarity with international standards. There are currently two RBC NGOs active in Bangladesh:

  • CSR Bangladesh:
  • CSR Centre Bangladesh:

Along with the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, the CSR Centre is the joint focal point for the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and its corporate social responsibility principles in Bangladesh. The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest corporate citizenship and sustainability initiative. The Centre is a member of a regional RBC platform called the South Asian Network on Sustainability and Responsibility, with members including Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan.

While several NGOs have proposed National Corporate Social Responsibility Guidelines, the government has yet to adopt any such standards for RBC. As a result, the government encourages enterprises to follow generally accepted RBC principles but does not mandate any specific guidelines.

Bangladesh has natural resources, but it has not joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The country does not adhere to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a serious impediment to investment and economic growth in Bangladesh. While the government has established legislation to combat bribery, embezzlement, and other forms of corruption, enforcement is inconsistent. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is the main institutional anti-corruption watchdog. With amendments to the Money Laundering Prevention Act, the ACC is no longer the sole authority to probe money-laundering offenses. Although it still has primary authority for bribery and corruption, other agencies will now investigate related offenses, including:

  • The Bangladesh Police (Criminal Investigation Department) – Most predicate offenses.
  • The National Board of Revenue – VAT, taxation, and customs offenses.
  • The Department of Narcotics Control – drug related offenses.

The current Awami League-led government has publicly underscored its commitment to fighting corruption and reaffirmed the need for a strong ACC, but opposition parties claim the ACC is used by the government to harass political opponents. Efforts to ease public procurement rules and a recent constitutional amendment diminishing the independence of the ACC may undermine institutional safeguards against corruption. Bangladesh is a party to the UN Anticorruption Convention but has not joined the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Public Officials. Corruption is common in public procurement, tax and customs collection, and among regulatory authorities. Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business. By some estimates, off-the-record payments by firms may result in an annual reduction of two to three percent of GDP. Corruption has a corrosive impact on the broader business climate market and opportunities for U.S. companies in Bangladesh. It also deters investment, stifles economic growth and development, distorts prices, and undermines the rule of law.

Barbados

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including in support of environmental, social, and cultural causes. The non-governmental organization (NGO) community, while comparatively small, is involved in fundraising and volunteerism in gender, health, environmental, and community projects. The government periodically partners with NGOs and encourages philanthropy.

Barbados was on the Tier 2 Watch List for trafficking in persons for from 2019-2021, however, there are no known human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct of

which foreign businesses should be aware.

Adoption of broad corporate governance codes such as the OECD guidelines is voluntary, as is disclosure of corporate governance practices. In practice, many companies in Barbados are influenced by international best practices. CBB and FSC guidelines regulate the purpose and role of the board of directors. The accounting profession is regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados, which is a member of the International Federation of Accountants.

Barbados is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implemented these laws effectively. Barbados signed but did not yet ratify the UN Convention on Corruption and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

In 2012, Barbados enacted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which includes standards of integrity in public life. It has not been proclaimed by the President and consequently is not in force. The Integrity of Public Life Bill 2020, which mandated declaration of assets by all politicians, senior public officers, chair people, and high-ranking managers of SOEs, passed in Barbados’ Parliament but was ultimately defeated in the Senate. Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s administration plans to bring the bill back to Parliament in 2022 but has acknowledged the need to reach agreement with opposing forces in the Senate.

The Government of Barbados has announced its intention to establish a public investment dashboard to provide information relevant to public sector investment projects, including cost overruns, procurement procedures, and company selection. The government also plans to establish an independent statistics and data analytics authority and to introduce a Freedom of Information Act.

A government minister with the previous administration was arrested in the United States on charges of laundering proceeds from bribes paid in Barbados. In 2020, he was found guilty on two charges of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Barbados is a member of the regional Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Belarus

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Belarusian laws and policies include no notion or definition of responsible business conduct and, consequently, take no measures to encourage it. Independent trade unions and business associations promote the concept of responsible business conduct.

In the aftermath of the fraudulent 2020 presidential elections, civil society organizations and opposition political figures sought to draw the attention of multinational companies and foreign investors to the human rights situation in Belarus. For example, the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions worked with a Norwegian fertilizer company Yara through its relationship with state-owned potash producer Belaruskali to improve respect for workers’ rights and safety at Belaruskali. Yara later suspended its dealings with Belaruskali due in large part to Western sanctions. Civil society organizations outside of Belarus continue to engage foreign investors and companies on political considerations inside the country. Many multinational corporations decided in 2021 and 2022 to withdraw from the Belarusian market and terminate advertising contracts with state-owned Belarusian media because of continued human rights abuses by the GOB and its support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus does not allow private military or security companies.

9. Corruption

Official sources claim that most corruption cases involve soliciting and accepting bribes, fraud, and abuse of power, although anecdotal evidence indicates such corruption usually does not occur as part of day-to-day interaction between citizens and minor state officials. In Belarus, bribery is considered a form of corruption and is punishable with a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and confiscation of property. The most corrupt sectors are considered to be state administration and procurement, the industrial sector, agriculture, trade, and the construction industry. In 2020, Belarusian courts convicted 684 individuals “on corruption-related charges.” However, corruption and financial crimes charges are often used by the government for political purposes. Furthermore, the absence of independent judicial and law enforcement systems, the lack of separation of powers, and the lack of independent press make it difficult to gauge the true scale of corruption.

Belarus has anti-corruption legislation consisting of certain provisions of the Criminal Code and Administrative Code as well as the Law on Public Service and the Law on Combating Corruption. The latter is the country’s main anti-corruption document and was adopted in 2015. Belarusian anti-corruption law covers family members of government officials and political figures. In December 2021, Belarus’ parliament adopted in the first reading amendments to its anti-corruption law, seeking to improve prevention and streamline the interaction of government agencies in fighting corruption.

The country’s regulations require addressing any potential conflict of interest of parties seeking to win a government procurement contract. The list of these regulations includes the July 13, 2012 law “On public procurement of goods (works, services),” the December 31, 2013 presidential decree “On conducting procurement procedures,” and the March 15, 2012 Council of Ministers resolution on the procurement of goods (works, services). Government organizations directly engaged in anti-corruption efforts are prosecutors’ offices, internal affairs, state security and state control agencies.

Belarus is party to several international anti-corruption conventions and agreements. The Republic of Belarus has ratified major international anti-corruption treaties, such as the Convention of the Council of Europe 173 on criminal liability for corruption (S 173) (concluded in Strasbourg on 27 January, 1999); the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, signed by Belarus in Palermo on 24 December, 2000, and the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (concluded in New York on 31 October, 2003); and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption (concluded in Strasbourg on 4 November, 1999) (ratified in 2005). Belarus also signed several the intergovernmental agreements to address corruption.

In 2019, the Council of Europe’s (COE) Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) publicly declared Belarus non-compliant with GRECO’s anti-corruption standards. This was GRECO’s first ever declaration of non-compliance. According to the COE, Belarus failed to address 20 out of 24 recommendations made in 2012; had not authorized the publication of the 2012 report or related compliance reports; and was non-responsive since 2017 to requests from GRECO to organize a high-level mission to Belarus. The majority of GRECO’s recommendations related to fundamental anti-corruption requirements, such as strengthening the independence of the judiciary and the prosecutor’s office, as well as increasing the operational autonomy of law enforcement and limiting the immunity protections provided to certain categories of persons. However, the COE contends that limited reporting indicates that corruption is particularly alarming higher up in the government hierarchy and in procurement for state-run enterprises.

According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Belarus fell from 63rd down to 82nd place out of 180 countries in the rankings and received 41 of 100 possible points on its scale, down from 47 in 2020. For comparison in 2021, Poland ranked 42nd, Lithuania 34th, Latvia 37th, Ukraine 122nd, and Russia 136th.

Belgium

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Belgian government encourages both foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted Corporate Social Responsibility principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Belgian government also encourages adherence to the OECD Due Diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected areas.

When it comes to human rights, labor rights, consumer and environmental protection, or laws/regulations which would protect individuals from adverse business impacts, the Belgian government is generally considered to enforce domestic laws in a fair and effective manner.

There is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among producers and consumers. Boards of directors are encouraged to pay attention to corporate social responsibility in the 2009 Belgian Code on corporate governance. This Code, also known as the ‘Code Buysse II’ stresses the importance of sound entrepreneurship, good corporate governance, an active board of directors and an advisory council. It deals with unlisted companies and is complementary to existing Belgian legislation. However, adherence to the Code Buysse II is not factored into public procurement decisions. For listed companies, far stricter guidelines apply, which are monitored by the Financial Services and Markets Authority.

Belgium is part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  There are currently no alleged or reported human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct (RBC) that foreign businesses should be aware of. In cases of violations, the Belgian government generally enforces domestic laws effectively and fairly. NGOs and unions that promote or monitor RBC can do so freely.

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Belgian has extensive anti-bribery laws in place. Bribing foreign officials is a criminal offense in Belgium. Belgium has been a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and is a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

Anti-bribery legislation provides for jurisdiction in certain cases over persons (foreign as well as Belgian nationals) who commit bribery offenses outside the territory of Belgium. Various limitations apply, however. For example, if the bribe recipient exercises a public function in an EU member state, Belgian prosecution may not proceed without the formal consent of the other state.

Under Belgian law bribery is considered passive if a government official or employer requests or accepts a benefit for him or herself or for somebody else in exchange for behaving in a certain way. Active bribery is defined as the proposal of a promise or benefit in exchange for undertaking a specific action.

Corruption by public officials carries heavy fines and/or imprisonment between 5 (five) and 10 years. Private individuals face similar fines and slightly shorter prison terms (between six months and two years). The current law not only holds individuals accountable, but also the company for which they work. Recent court cases in Belgium suggest that corruption is most prevalent in government procurement and public works contracting.  American companies have not, however, identified corruption as a barrier to investment.

The responsibility for enforcing corruption laws is shared by the Ministry of Justice through investigating magistrates of the courts, and the Ministry of the Interior through the Belgian federal police, which has jurisdiction over all criminal cases. A special unit, the Central Service for Combating Corruption, has been created for enforcement purposes but continues to lack the necessary staff. Belgium is also an active participant in the Global Forum on Asset Recovery.

The Belgian Employers Federation encourages its members to establish internal codes of conduct aimed at prohibiting bribery. To date, U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Belize

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Belize generally lacks broad awareness of the expectations and standards for responsible business conduct (RBC).  However, many foreign and local companies engage in responsible corporate behaviors and partner with NGOs or international organizations to reinvest in community development and charitable work.  Companies sponsor educational scholarships, sports-related activities, community enhancement projects, and entrepreneurship activities, among other programs.  There is a strong thread of environmental awareness that also impacts business decision-making.  BELTRAIDE, in its official public outreach, promotes civic responsibility, especially in its outreach to entrepreneurs and aspiring businesspeople.

The Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for investigating complaints of official corruption and abuse of power.  As required by law, the Ombudsman is active in filing annual reports to the National Assembly and investigating incidents of alleged misconduct, particularly of police abuses.   This office continues to be constrained by the lack of enforcement powers, political pressure, and limited resources.

Belize has no recent cases of private-sector impact on human rights and no NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations/unions, or business associations specifically promote or monitor RBC.

Certain projects require the Department of the Environment’s approval for Environmental Impact Assessments or Environmental Compliance Plans. The Department of Environment website, http://www.doe.gov.bz , has more information on the Environmental Protection Act, various regulations, applications, and guidelines.

Belize has not adopted a particular accounting framework as its national standard. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are required for domestic banks under the Domestic Bank and Financial Institutions Act (DBFIA) of Belize. Also, under the DBFIA, the Central Bank of Belize issues practice direction, directives, guidance, and advisories on corporate governance applicable to all banks and financial institutions operating and supervised by the Central Bank.

For other companies, Belize permits the use of IFRS Standards and the IFRS for SMEs as the standard financial reporting framework for preparing financial statements. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Belize regards IFRS Standards as an allowed accounting framework under its professional standards. Alternatively, non-bank companies are permitted to use other internationally recognized standards. The U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and Canadian GAAP are often used. There are no government measures relating executive compensation standards and RBC policies are not factored into procurement decisions.  Opposition party political pronouncements often target official malfeasance in procurement and cronyism in government contracts, but these concerns are historically muted once the opposition takes power.

There are similarly no alleged or reported human or labor rights concerns relating to RBC. In recent years, labor unions and business associations have become actively engaged in advocating for stronger measures against corruption.

Belize does not have a developed mineral sector and is not a conflict or high-risk country.  As such, it does not adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.  Belize’s extractive/mining industry is not developed, and it does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and/or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

The country is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor is it a supporter of the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers and is not a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

Belize has anticorruption laws that are seldom enforced.  Under the Prevention of Corruption in Public Life Act, public officials are required to make annual financial disclosures, but there is little adherence and poor enforcement.  The Act criminalizes acts of corruption by public officials and includes measures on the use of office for private gain; code of conduct breaches; the misuse of public funds; and bribery.  This Act also established an Integrity Commission mandated to monitor, prevent, and combat corruption by examining declarations of physical assets and financial positions filed by public officers.  In practice, the office is understaffed and charges are almost never brought against officials.  It is not uncommon for politicians disgraced in corruption scandals to return to government after a short period of time has elapsed. The Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) Act identifies “politically exposed persons” to include family members or close associates of any politician.

The Ministry of Finance issues the Belize Stores Orders and Financial Orders – policies and procedures for government procurement.  The Manual for the Control of Public Finances provides the framework for the registration and use of public funds to procure goods and services. Private companies are neither required to establish internal codes of conduct, ethics, or compliance programs, nor is it common to use them.

In June 2001, the Government of Belize signed the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Convention on Corruption, which calls for periodic reviews.   In December 2016, Belize acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) amid public pressure and demonstrations from the teachers’ unions.  The Belizean government continues to be criticized for the lack of political will to fully implement UNCAC.

There are few non-governmental institutions that monitor government activities. The most active, the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), lobbies within narrow labor-related areas.  Environmental NGOs and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) often make statements regarding government policy as it affects their respective spheres of activity.  The government does not provide protection to NGOs investigating corruption.

Despite these measures, many businesspeople complain that both major political parties practice bias that creates an unlevel playing field related to businesses seeking licenses, the importation of goods, winning government contracts for procurement of goods and services, and transfer of government land to private owners.  Some middle-class citizens and business owners have complained of government officials, including police, soliciting bribes.

Benin

8. Responsible Business Conduct

In general, government policies and public tenders are made public online and in the newspapers. Anti-corruption and human rights NGOs and activists are active in Benin, though their ability to report misconduct and violations of good governance has weakened under the Talon administration. The government-funded agencies in charge of monitoring business conduct include the High Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (HCPC), the Court of Accounts, the National Financial Information Processing Unit, and the National Commission on Systems and Freedom.

9. Corruption

Benin has laws aimed at combatting corruption and has made progress combatting the most common forms of corruption, but work remains in rooting it out. The new HCPC is the lead government entity on corruption issues and has the authority to refer corruption cases to court. The HCPC has the authority to combat money laundering, electoral fraud, and economic fraud in the public and private sectors. Benin’s State Audit Office is also responsible for identifying and acting against corruption in the public sector. The CRIET processes cases related to economic crimes, which include corruption. In 2018, the National Assembly approved the lifting of parliamentary immunity of a small number of opposition parliamentarians accused of corruption or embezzlement during their past positions in former governments.

Bribery is illegal and subject to up to 10 years’ imprisonment, but enforcement remains inconsistent.

Beninese procurement law allows for open and closed bid processes. Contracts are often awarded based on government solicitations to short-listed companies with industry-specific expertise, often identified based on companies’ commercial activities conducted in other overseas markets. The government often uses sole sourcing for projects, including for PAG implementation, and in these cases does not publish procurement requests before selecting a vendor. Foreign companies have expressed concerns about unfair treatment, biased consideration, and improper practices specific to the process of selecting short-listed companies.

Benin is a signatory of the UN Anticorruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Bolivia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Bolivia has laws that regulate aspects related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices.   Both producers and consumers in Bolivia are generally aware of CSR, but consumer decisions are ultimately based on price and quality.  The Bolivian Constitution stipulates that economic activity cannot damage the collective good (Article 47).

Though Bolivia is not part of the OECD, it has participated in several Latin American Corporate Governance Roundtables since 2000.  Neither the Bolivian government nor its organizations use the OECD Guidelines for CSR.  Instead, Bolivian companies and organizations are focused on trying to accomplish the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and they use the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) methodology in order to show economic, social and environmental results.  While the Bolivian government, private companies, and non-profits are focused on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, only a few private companies and NGOs focus on following the UN standard ISO 26000 guidelines and methodologies.  Another methodology widely accepted in Bolivia is the one developed by the ETHOS Institute, which provides measurable indicators accepted by PLARSE (Programa Latinoamericano de Responsabilidad Social Corporativa), the Latin American Program for CSR. The Bolivian government issued a 2013 supreme decree that requires financial entities to allocate six percent of profits to CSR-related projects.

The 1942 General Labor Law is the basis for employment rights in Bolivia, but this law has been modified more than 2,000 times via 60 supreme decrees since 1942.  As a result of these modifications, the General Labor Law has become a complex web of regulations that is difficult to enforce or understand.  An example of the lack of enforcement is the Comprehensive System for Protection of the Disabled (Law 25689), which stipulates that at least four percent of the total work force in public institutions, SOEs, and private companies should be disabled.  Neither the public nor private sectors are close to fulfilling this requirement, and most buildings lack even basic access modifications to allow for disabled workers.

In support of consumer protection rights, the Vice Ministry of Defense of User and Consumer Rights was created in 2009 (Supreme Decree 29894) under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice (which became the Ministry of Justice and Transparency in 2017).  Also in 2009, the Consumer Protection Law (Supreme Decree 0065) was enacted, which gave the newly created Vice Ministry the authority to request information, verify, and follow up on consumer complaints.

The Mother Earth Law (Law 071) approved in October 2012 promotes CSR elements as part of its principles (Article 2), such as collective good, harmony, respect, and defense of rights.  The Ministry of Environment and Water oversees the implementation of this law, but the implementing regulations and new institutions needed to enforce this law are still incomplete. Although there are no specific claims regarding improper allocation of land or natural resources, indigenous communities do object to the government giving mine concessions in national parks and in areas where indigenous communities live, contaminating their water and destroying the environment.

Even though Bolivia promotes the development of CSR practices in its laws, the government gives no advantage to businesses that implement these practices.  Instead, businesses implement CSRs in order to gain the public support necessary to pass the prior consultation requirements or strengthen their support when mounting a legal defense against claims that they are not using land to fulfill a socially valuable purpose, as defined in the Community Land Reform laws (# 1775 and #3545).

In April 2009, the Bolivian government reorganized the supervisory agencies of the government (formerly “Superintendencias”) to include social groups, thus creating the “Authorities of Supervision and Social Control” (Supreme Decree 0071).  This authority controls and supervises the following sectors: telecommunications and transportation, water and sanitation, forests and land, pensions, electricity, and enterprises.  Each sector has an Authority of Supervision and Social Control assigned to its oversight, and each Authority has the right to audit the activities in the sectors and the right to request the public disclosure of information, ranging from financial disclosures to investigation of management decisions.

9. Corruption

Bolivian law stipulates criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the laws are not often implemented properly.  Governmental lack of transparency, and police and judicial corruption, remain significant problems.  The Ministry of Justice and Transparency and the Prosecutor’s Office are both responsible for combating corruption.  Cases involving allegations of corruption against the president and vice president require congressional approval before prosecutors may initiate legal proceedings, and cases against pro-government public officials are rarely allowed to proceed.  Despite the court ruling that awarding immunity for corruption charges is unconstitutional, their rulings were ignored by the government.

Police corruption remains a significant problem.  There are also reports of widespread corruption in the country’s judiciary.In August 2021, the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), formed from an agreement between the Bolivian government and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, found that the Bolivian government needs to implement profound reforms in its justice system to guarantee that the judiciary and attorney general’s office are not used for political purposes by the government in power, to guarantee due process, and so that preventive detention is only used as a last resort in criminal proceedings.   The 2021 Transparency International corruption perception index ranked Bolivia 128 out of 180 countries and found that Bolivian citizens believe the most corrupt institutions in Bolivia are the judiciary, the police, and executive branch,

Bolivia has laws in place that govern public sector-related contracts (Law 1178 and Supreme Decree 181), including contracts for the acquisition of goods, services, and consulting jobs.  Bribery of public officials is also a criminal offense under Articles 145 and 158 of Bolivia’s Criminal Code.  Laws also exist that provide protection for citizens filing complaints against corruption.

Bolivia signed the UN Anticorruption Convention in December 2003 and ratified it in December 2005.  Bolivia is also party to the OAS Inter-American Convention against Corruption.  Bolivia is not a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Foreign and local companies conduct some corporate social responsibility activities and there is a general awareness of standards for responsible business conduct. More could be done in this area to respond to BiH’s various social and economic needs. In general, consumers tend to view favorably companies that initiate and carry out charitable activities in the local market. Corporate governance is not part of the broader economic mindset, and shareholder protection is not a priority. The financial system is not yet developed enough to understand and apply principles of corporate governance and shareholder protection. The BiH Consumer Ombudsman leads efforts to ensure that consumers are aware of their rights and takes action against organizations that have been accused of violating consumer rights. The local American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) has an Ethics and Compliance Committee to raise awareness about responsible business conduct and make it a more routine part of doing business in BiH.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains endemic in many political and economic institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and raises the costs and risks of doing business. BiH’s overly complex business registration and licensing process is particularly vulnerable to corruption. The multitude of state, entity, cantonal, and municipal administrations, each with the power to establish laws and regulations affecting business, creates a system that lacks transparency and opens opportunities for corruption. Paying bribes to obtain necessary business licenses and construction permits, or simply to expedite the approval process, occurs regularly. Foreign investors have criticized government and public procurement tenders for a lack of openness and transparency. Public procurement reform, which would establish rules and regulations to close off some of the avenues for corruption in public contracting, has been stalled due to opposition from leading political parties.

Transparency International’s (TI) 2021 Corruption Perception Index ranked BiH 110 out of 180 countries. According to TI, relevant institutions lack the will to actively fight corruption; law enforcement agencies and the judiciary are not effective in the prosecution of corruption cases and are visibly exposed to political pressures or under the outright control of politicians and their patronage networks; and prosecutors complain that citizens generally do not report instances of corruption and do not want to testify in these cases. In 2011, BiH established a state-level agency to coordinate efforts to combat corruption; while officially active, the agency has shown limited results. Nascent efforts to, with U.S. support, establish cantonal-level Anti-Corruption Offices are underway throughout the FBiH, but efforts to undermine their independence and obstruct investigations are widespread.

Corruption has a corrosive impact on both market opportunities overseas for U.S. companies and the broader business climate. Several BiH individuals and one business entity are under OFAC sanctions for destabilizing activities and corruption, while others have been designated by the Department of State under 7031(c) authorities barring their entry to the United States. Most prominent among these is Serb member of the BiH Presidency and President of the SNSD political party Milorad Dodik. Other individuals have been sanctioned for war crimes. Corruption deters foreign investment, stifles economic growth and development, distorts prices, and undermines the rule of law. U.S. companies must carefully assess the business climate and develop an effective compliance program and measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery. U.S. individuals and firms should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of the United States and of BiH at all levels of government in order to properly comply, and where appropriate, seek the advice of legal counsel.

The U.S. government seeks to level the global playing field for U.S. businesses by encouraging other countries to take steps to criminalize their own companies’ acts of corruption, including bribery of foreign public officials, and uphold obligations under relevant international conventions. A U.S. firm that believes a competitor is seeking to use bribery of a foreign public official to secure a contract should bring this to the attention of appropriate U.S. agencies.

While the U.S. Department of Commerce cannot provide legal advice on local laws, the Department’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service can provide assistance with navigating the host country’s legal system and obtaining a list of local legal counsel.

The U.S. Department of Commerce offers a number of services to aid U.S. businesses. For example, the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service can provide services that may assist U.S. companies in conducting due diligence when choosing business partners or agents overseas and provide support for qualified U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts. For a list of U.S. Foreign and Commercial Service offices, please visit the Commercial Service website: www.trade.gov/cs 

Alleged corruption by foreign governments or competitors can be brought to the attention of appropriate U.S. government officials, including U.S. Embassy personnel or through the Department of Commerce Trade Compliance Center “Report a Trade Barrier” Website at: https://tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/index.asp 

Contact at government agency or agencies responsible for combating corruption:

BiH Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and Coordination of the Fight against Corruption
Phone: +387 57 322 540
email: kontakt@apik.ba
www.apik.ba 

Contact at “watchdog” organization (international, regional, local or nongovernmental organization operating in the country/economy that monitors corruption):

Transparency International BiH
Phone: +387 51 216928
Fax: +387 51 216369
email: info@ti-bih.org
www.ti-bih.org 

BiH signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in October 2006. BiH is also party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Botswana

8. Responsible Business Conduct 

The GoB, some foreign and local firms, and customers, recognized and embraced Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), although Botswana is not an adherent of the OECD’s RBC Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and has not specified its definition of RBC.  Large companies in the mining, communications technology, food supply, and financial services sectors have established RBC programs, sponsor projects, and support local nonprofit concerns.  However, the ethos has not taken hold in many smaller firms.  The U.S. Embassy worked with the local chamber of commerce, Business Botswana, on the issue of corporate social responsibility and ethical compliance, to help enlist companies to sign onto a Corporate Code of Conduct that covers, among other things, conflicts of interest, bribery, political interference, political party funding, procurement and bidding, and issues surrounding residence and work permits.  To date more than 300 firms have signed the Code of Conduct.

The Companies Act also sets out the expectations of business conduct and governance for directors and shareholders for both private and public companies.  Botswana is not a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  Botswana’s Mines and Minerals Act and associated regulations govern mineral contracts and licenses.  Botswana’s laws and procedures for awarding mining contracts are fairly well developed.  Mining licenses are required to undergo a public comment period before they are awarded, and that rule is followed.

9. Corruption 

Botswana’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) has deteriorated significantly, eroding its previously held reputation as the ‘least corrupt country in Africa’.  Transparency International ranks Botswana at 45 out of 180 countries in 2021 falling from 35th place in 2020 with a score of 55 out of 100, a change of negative 5 from the previous year.  The Human Rights Report (HRR) 2020 for Botswana also notes increased media reports of government corruption, mostly related to COVID-19 projects.  The HRR also states that a poll conducted by Transparency International in 2019, indicated that 7 percent of those polled had paid bribes to government officials, jumping from only 1 percent in 2015.  Private sector representatives also note rising corruption levels in government tender procurements.

The major corruption investigation body is the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC).  Anecdotal reports on the DCEC’s effectiveness vary.  The DCEC has embarked on an education campaign to raise public awareness about the cost of corruption and is also working with GoB departments to reform their accountability procedures.  Corruption is punishable by a prison term of up to 10 years, a fine of $50,000, or both.  The GoB has prosecuted high-level officials.  Corruption trials and investigations of some government officials on cases of money laundering, abuse of office, receiving bribes and embezzlement of funds continued during 2020 and are still on-going. Human rights issues reported in the HRR included restrictions on press and internet freedom of expression, interference with freedom of association, child labor including commercial sexual exploitation of children.  On a positive note, while such crimes exist, the GoB officials were reported to be cooperative and responsive to domestic NGO’s views on most subjects and placed no restrictions on domestic and international human rights groups nor did they interfere with their investigations and publishing findings on human rights cases.

The 2000 Proceeds of Serious Crime Act expanded the DCEC’s mandate to include combatting money laundering.  The 2009 Financial Intelligence Act provides a comprehensive legal framework to address money laundering and establishes a financial intelligence agency (FIA).  The FIA, which operates under the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, cooperates with various institutions, such as Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Botswana Police Service, Bank of Botswana, the Non-Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the DCEC, and foreign FIAs to uncover and investigate suspicious financial transactions.  Botswana is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group, a regional standards-setting body for ensuring appropriate laws, policies, and practices to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism.  In 2021, Botswana was removed from the FATF grey list on which it had been placed on in October 2018 and was subsequently removed from the EU blacklist.

Botswana is not a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, but it is a party to the 2005 United Nations Convention against Corruption.

Brazil

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Most state-owned and private sector corporations of any significant size in Brazil pursue corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Brazil’s new CFIAs (see sections on bilateral investment agreements and dispute settlement) contain CSR provisions. Some corporations use CSR programs to meet local content requirements, particularly in information technology manufacturing. Many corporations support local education, health, and other programs in the communities where they have a presence. Brazilian consumers, especially the local residents where a corporation has or is planning a local presence, generally expect CSR activity. Corporate officials frequently meet with community members prior to building a new facility to review the types of local services the corporation will commit to providing. Foreign and local enterprises in Brazil often advance United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of their CSR activity, and will cite their local contributions to SDGs, such as universal primary education and environmental sustainability. Brazilian prosecutors and civil society can be very proactive in bringing cases against companies for failure to implement the requirements of the environmental licenses for their investments and operations. National and international nongovernmental organizations monitor corporate activities for perceived threats to Brazil’s biodiversity and tropical forests and can mount strong campaigns against alleged misdeeds. A common challenge for foreign businesses, especially as it relates to child and forced labor, is a lack of transparency in supply chains.

The U.S. diplomatic mission in Brazil supports U.S. business CSR activities through the +Unidos Group (Mais Unidos), a group of multinational companies established in Brazil, which support public and private CSR alliances in Brazil. Additional information can be found at: www.maisunidos.org  

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Brazil is the world’s 12th largest greenhouse gas emitter. At COP 26 in November 2021, Brazil committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, ten years ahead of its previous commitment, ending illegal deforestation by 2028, and announced a plan to implement a Brazilian carbon market in 2022. However, rates of illegal deforestation continue to rise from a 2012 low; in 2021, illegal deforestation increased by 22 percent from the previous year. Private sector operators, especially in the agricultural sector, are concerned that consumer reaction to environmental issues in Brazil, especially deforestation in the Amazon Basin, could result in the boycott of Brazilian exports and a loss of market share. Such boycotts have already occurred in some supermarket chains in Europe.

Brazil established a National Policy on Climate Change in 2009 for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and consolidation of a low carbon economy. During COP 26 in Glasgow, Brazil published guidelines to update its national climate strategy, focusing on consolidating various initiatives to develop a low carbon economy. The strategy includes goals such as eliminating illegal deforestation, restoring forests, a “National Green Growth Plan,” and financing directed at developing a green economy.

In biodiversity, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment coordinates and supports actions aimed at identifying species of native fauna and flora, monitoring and evaluating the conservation status of an increasingly significant portion of these species. To ensure the conservation of native species, the Ministry creates development models that encourage the sustainable use of biodiversity, along the lines of what is encouraged under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

In October 2021, the government launched the National Green Growth Program. The Program uses new resources from the BRICS Development Bank for forest conservation projects, the rational use of natural resources, and the generation of green jobs. The new program will have national and international resources, public and private, reimbursable and non-reimbursable impact funds and risk investments. The plan focuses on six areas: renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, low-emission industry, basic sanitation, waste treatment, and ecotourism. At the program launch, the Brazilian Ministry of Environment stated that the federal government has a total credit line of 411 billion reais ($82.2 million) allocated for green projects. However, critics argue that the program is just a repackaging of several initiatives that already existed in the government, claiming that of the 400 billion reais planned, only 12 billion ($2.4 million, 3 percent of the total) were new funds.

At COP 26, Brazil signed the Global Methane Pledge to reduce global methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030. In February 2022, the Ministry of Environment announced that it would soon present a “Methane Zero” plan that would incentivize biomethane capture/production from landfills, sugar cane waste, and dairy barns; however, as of March 2022 the plan has not been announced.

The government expects active participation from the private sector through contributions to the Ministry of Environment’s projects. For example, the “Adopt-a-Park” program was established to gather resources for the conservation of national parks and is directed at national and foreign companies or individuals that are interested in contributing to environmental protection in Brazil. Through the program, resources are invested by the adopter in services such as remote monitoring, wildland firefighting and prevention, actions against illegal deforestation, and recovery of degraded areas.

In 2019, Brazil launched the National Biofuels Policy (RenovaBio) to comply with its Paris Agreement commitments by promoting the expansion of biofuels in the energy matrix and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The policy established annual national decarbonization targets for the fuel sector, divided into mandatory individual targets for fuel distributors. To comply with the targets, fuel distributors purchase Decarbonization Credits (CBIO), a financial asset tradable on the stock exchange since 2020 derived from the certification of the biofuel production process and that corresponds to one ton of carbon dioxide. According to the Brazilian government, the program reached 85 percent of its targets in 2021, preventing the emission of 24 million tons of greenhouse gases and trading $212 million-worth of CBIOs in the stock market.

9. Corruption

Brazil has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, but enforcement activities against corruption are inconsistent. Several bills to revise the country’s regulation of the lobbying/government relations industry have been pending before Congress for years. Bribery is illegal, and a bribe by a Brazilian-based company to a foreign government official can result in criminal penalties for individuals and administrative penalties for companies, including fines and potential disqualification from government contracts. A company cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from its taxes. While federal government authorities generally investigate allegations of corruption, there are inconsistencies in the level of enforcement among individual states. Corruption is problematic in business dealings with some authorities, particularly at the municipal level. U.S. companies operating in Brazil are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Brazil signed the UN Convention against Corruption in 2003 and ratified it in 2005. Brazil is a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. It was one of the founders, along with the United States, of the intergovernmental Open Government Partnership, which seeks to help governments increase transparency.

In 1996, Brazil signed the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC), developed within the Organization of American States (OAS). It was incorporated in Brazil by Legislative Decree 152 and went into force in 2002.

In 2020, Brazil ranked 96th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The full report can be found at: https://www.transparency.org/en/cpi/2021 

From 2014-2021, the complex federal criminal investigation known as Operação Lava Jato (Operation Carwash) investigated and prosecuted a complex web of public sector corruption, contract fraud, money laundering, and tax evasion stemming from systematic overcharging for government contracts, particularly at parastatal oil company Petrobras. The investigation led to the arrests and convictions of Petrobras executives, oil industry suppliers, executives from Brazil’s largest construction companies, money launderers, former politicians, and political party operators. Appeals of convictions and sentences continue to work their way through the Brazilian court system. On December 25, 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a packet of anti-crime legislation into law, which included several anti-corruption measures. The new measures include regulation of immunity agreements – information provided by a subject in exchange for reduced sentence – which were widely used during Operation Carwash. The legislation also strengthens Brazil’s whistleblower mechanisms, permitting anonymous information about crimes against the public administration and related offenses. Operation Carwash was dissolved in February 2021. In March 2021, the OECD established a working group to monitor anticorruption efforts in Brazil.

In December 2016, Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht and its chemical manufacturing arm Braskem agreed to pay the largest FCPA penalty in U.S. history and plead guilty to charges filed in the United States, Brazil, and Switzerland that alleged the companies paid hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes to government officials around the world. The U.S. Department of Justice case stemmed directly from the Lava Jato investigation and focused on violations of the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA. Details on the case can be found at: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/odebrecht-and-braskem-plead-guilty-and-agree-pay-least-35-billion-global-penalties-resolve  

In January 2018, Petrobras settled a class-action lawsuit with investors in U.S. federal court for $3 billion, which was one of the largest securities class action settlements in U.S. history. The investors alleged that Petrobras officials accepted bribes and made decisions that had a negative impact on Petrobras’ share value. In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Petrobras would pay a fine of $853.2 million to settle charges that former executives and directors violated the FCPA through fraudulent accounting used to conceal bribe payments from investors and regulators.

In October 2020, Brazilian meatpacking and animal protein company JBS reached two settlements in the United States to pay fines to settle charges of corruption. The company is part of the J&F Group, which was also a part of the settlements. The group agreed to pay over $155 million in fines for violations of U.S. laws due to misconduct by J&F and failure to maintain accounting records by JBS. Lava Jato investigations also resulted in the arrest of several JBS executives who also signed plea bargains in the 2020 settlements.

Resources to Report Corruption

Secretaria de Cooperação Internacional – Ministério Público Federal

SAF Sul Quadra 04 Conjunto C Bloco “B” Sala 509/512

pgr-internacional@mpf.mp.br 
stpc.dpc@cgu.gov.br 
https://www.gov.br/cgu/pt-br/anticorrupcao 

Transparência BrasilR. Bela Cintra, 409; Sao Paulo, Brasil+55 (11) 3259-6986http://www.transparencia.org.br/contato

Brunei

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct is a relatively new concept in Brunei, and there are no specific government programs encouraging foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles. However, there is broad awareness of CSR among producers and consumers, and individual private and public sector organizations have formalized CSR programs and policies. There are no reporting requirements and no independent NGOs in Brunei that promote or monitor CSR.

9. Corruption

Since 1982, Brunei has enforced the Emergency (Prevention of Corruption) Act. In 1984, the Act was renamed the Prevention of Corruption Act (Chapter 131) . The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) was established in 1982 for the purpose of enforcing the Act. The Prevention of Corruption Act provides specific powers to the ACB for the purpose of investigating accusations of corruption. The Act authorizes ACB to investigate certain offences under other written laws, provided such offences were disclosed during the course of ACB investigation. Corrupt practices are punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, which also applies to Brunei citizens abroad. Brunei is a member of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities.

In 2019, Brunei was ranked 35th of 180 countries worldwide in Transparency International’s corruption perception index. U.S. companies do not generally identify corruption as an obstacle to conducting business in Brunei. The level and extent of reported corruption in Brunei is generally low. In January 2020, however, the government convicted two former judges with embezzling large sums from the court system. The sultan has repeatedly stated in public addresses that corruption is unacceptable.

Apart from the Anti-Corruption Bureau, there are no international, regional, local, or nongovernmental organizations operating in Brunei that monitor corruption.

Brunei has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention.

Resources to Report Corruption

Government Point of Contact:

Name: Hjh Anifa Rafiza Hj Abdul Ghani
Title: Director
Organization: Anti-Corruption Bureau Brunei Darussalam
Address: Old Airport Berakas, BB 3510 Brunei Darussalam
Tel: +673 238-3575
Fax: +673 238-3193
Mobile: +673 8721002 / +673 8130002
Email: info.bmr@acb.gov.bn 

Bulgaria

8. Responsible Business Conduct 

In 2007 the government adopted a National Corporate Governance Code to encourage companies to adhere to the principles of responsible business conduct (RBC).  In 2019, the government approved a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy for the period until 2023. The non-governmental Bulgarian Network for Social and Corporate Responsibility (CSR – csr.bg)  promotes CSR among Bulgarian companies and highlights good business practices.

There is a growing awareness of RBC standards and business’ obligation to proactively conduct due diligence to ensure they are doing no harm, with larger international firms generally further along than smaller domestic companies. Bulgarian companies are more frequently building RBC awareness through events organized in partnership with employer associations.

Bulgarian NGOs continued to report the exploitation of children in certain industries, particularly small family-owned shops, textile production, restaurants, construction businesses, and periodical sales. Children living in vulnerable situations, particularly Roma children, were exposed to harmful and exploitative work in the informal economy, mainly in agriculture, construction, and the service sector.

Bulgaria is not a member of either the OECD or the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a significant issue in Bulgaria. Bulgaria ranks 78th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021, the worst in the EU.  Human trafficking, and narcotics and contraband smuggling all contribute to corruption.  With the gradual introduction of technologies in public administration, including e-filing and the electronic issuance of certificates, some progress has been made in addressing petty corruption.  However, high-level corruption, particularly in public procurement, remains a serious concern.  The high-profile prosecutions that do take place are often seen as selective or politically motivated and typically end in acquittals after a lengthy judicial process.  The lack of serious convictions against senior officials and the need for reforms in the criminal justice sector remained high on the public agenda throughout 2021 when it took three elections to finally form a government. While the new governing coalition has demonstrated political will to undertake serious reforms, including to reorganize the Anti-Corruption Commission and increase its powers, it is yet to pass new laws and build capacity to secure final convictions for public corruption.

The Anti-Corruption Commission, established in 2018 on the foundations of several previously independent bodies for asset recovery and conflict of interest prevention, has been marred by leadership scandals and an insignificant anti-corruption record. The Anti-Corruption Fund (acf.bg), a civic organization created in 2017, conducts its own investigation of cases suspected either of corruption or conflict of interest among Bulgarian senior politicians and policy makers.

Bulgaria has ratified the Anti-Bribery Convention and is a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. Bulgaria has also ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure, and Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime (1994) and Civil Convention on Corruption (1999). Bulgaria has signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption (2003); the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption; and the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  In 2018, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted the Anti-Money Laundering Act, which transposes the 2015 EU Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering and terrorist financing.  The new law required registered business groups to declare by May 2019 their beneficial owners. Some companies continue to avoid ownership publication by registering shell entities in tax heavens and offshore zones. Local capacity to detect suspicious and potentially illicit money flows remains low as evidenced by a 2019 case involving millions in money transfers from a Venezuelan state-run oil company through the Bulgarian banking system.

Conflict of interest is legally defined in the Law on Combatting Corruption and Illegal Asset Forfeiture, Article 52: “Conflict of interest exists when the contracting authority, its employees or employees outside its structure who are involved in the preparation or award of the contract or who may influence the outcome of the contract have an interest, which may lead to a benefit and which could be considered to affect their impartiality and independence in connection with the award of the public contract.” Article 81 also defines conflict of interest as “receiving a material benefit” by senior public officials and related persons. In 2021 authorities levied fines on individuals in 22 conflict of interest cases.

Bribery is a criminal act under Bulgarian law both for the giver and for the receiver. Individuals who mediate and facilitate a bribe are also held accountable, but according to observers, enforcement of this provision has been arbitrary as prosecutors have de facto discretion not to charge individuals who opt to cooperate as witnesses.

Burkina Faso

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among both producers and consumers. The GoBF requires mining companies to invest in social infrastructure, such as health centers and schools, and other projects to benefit the local populations in the areas of their mining operations. To this end, the 2015 mining code stipulated the establishment of the Mining Fund for Local Development (FMDL). FMDL is a mechanism to decentralize national resources wealth. To fund the FMDL, the GOBF contributes 20% of the royalties it collects and the mining firms contribute about 1% of their gross revenues. FMDL entered into force in 2019 and has since distributed about US$ 129 million to 351 communes nationwide. A common practice for many companies is to provide food supplies, typically rice or millet, to their workers often at the end of the year. Larger private businesses, such as civil engineering firms, sponsor sport events like the Tour du Faso and donate sporting equipment to disadvantaged communities. SOEs such as SONABHY and LONAB frequently undertake social projects.

Burkina Faso is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2008. EITI declares Burkina Faso as a compliant country, recognizing the country’s “significant progress in the implementation of the 2016 EITI Standard, with considerable improvements,” including satisfactory scores on five of the six corrective measures assessed.

9. Corruption

Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index indicates that Burkina Faso ranks 78 out of 180 countries. Nearly 82 percent of Burkinabe believe corruption is frequent or very frequent in their country, according to a report released November 2021by the National Network for Anti-corruption Fight (REN-LAC). The percentage of people who thought corruption was frequent or very frequent (82%) has risen steadily since 2019 (76%) and 2018 (67%). The Burkinabe public also believe that the fight against corruption is going in the wrong direction. The report also ranks the most corrupt public services as perceived by the public as (1) municipal police, (2) national police, (3) customs, (4) General-Directorate for Road and Maritime Transports (DGTTM), and (5) gendarmerie. The State Supreme Audit Authority (ASCE-LC) is the leading government anti-corruption body that publishes an annual report documenting financial irregularities, embezzlement, and improper use of public funds in various ministries, government agencies, and state-run companies. In 2018, the ASCE-LC opened at least two high profile corruption investigations against the Ministers of Defense and Infrastructure. The minister of defense was jailed under corruption charges and provisionally released due to health conditions. The Burkinabe government continues to grant access within its own ministries to the non-governmental watchdog REN-LAC, which examines the management of private and public-sector entities and publishes annual reports on corruption levels within the country.

Legislation requires government officials, including the president, lawmakers, ministers, ambassadors, members of the military leadership, judges, and anyone charged with managing state funds, to declare their assets as well as any gifts or donations received while in office. Infractions are punishable by a maximum jail term of 20 years and fines of up to USD 41,670. In May 2020, former Minister of Defense, Jean-Claude Bouda, was arrested on “money laundering” and “illicit enrichment” charges following a complaint by the National Anti-Corruption Network. In June 2021, State Prosecutor Harouna Yoda announced that the Deputy Director General of Customs, William Alassane Kaboré, was placed under “judicial control,” for acts of illicit enrichment and money laundering amounting to 1.3 billion CFA (USD 2.2 million). Additionally, investigations are underway on the mayor of Ouagadougou and some magistrates who allegedly tried to bury this case.

One of the main governmental bodies for fighting official corruption is the Superior Authority of State Control (ASCE), an entity under the authority of the Prime Minister. ASCE has the authority to investigate ethics violations and mismanagement of public funds in the public sector, including civil service employees, local and public authorities, state-owned companies, and all national organizations involved with public service missions. ASCE publishes an annual report of activities, which provides details on its investigations and issues recommendations on how to resolve them. Many of its findings are followed by judicial action.

The Cour des Comptes (Court of Audit) is another institution that participates in the control of the execution of the annual budget. It draws up an annual report on the execution of the annual budget. Every year, it produces a public report, including the observations of all its audits, which is submitted to the President of Burkina Faso. It also draws up a general report for the President of Faso on the activity, management, and results of the companies it audits on a bi-annual basis.

The Autorité de Régulation de la Commande Publique (ARCOP), established in July 2008, is the regulatory oversight body that ensures fairness in the procurement process by monitoring the execution of all government contracts. ARCOP may impose sanctions, initiate lawsuits, and publish the names of fraudulent or delinquent businesses. It also educates communities benefiting from public investment monies to take a more active part in monitoring contractors. ARCOP works with the media to strengthen journalists’ capacity to investigate suspected fraud cases. Since 2012, the media has noticeably increased its coverage of high-profile corruption cases.

The Reseau National de Lutte Contre la Corruption (REN-LAC)’s annual state of corruption report has led to a wide range of anti-corruption initiatives and tools. REN-LAC has a 24-hour hotline that allows it to gather information on alleged corrupt practices anonymously reported by citizens. African Parliamentarians’ Network against Corruption also has a local chapter in Burkina Faso and cooperates with REN-LAC. To put an end to tax fraud, the government passed into law Article 17 of the November 21, 2013, Law No. 037-2013/AN of the 2014 Budget Law, which called for standardized invoices (Facture Normalisée) in commercial transactions. The Burkina Faso Chamber of Commerce will help facilitate its implementations. This provision however only became operational in early 2022.

As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Burkina Faso has agreed to enforce a regional law against money laundering and has issued a national law against money laundering and financial crimes.

Burkina Faso has taken steps to fully adopt regional and international anti-corruption frameworks, and the country ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in October 2006.

According to World Bank rating for control of corruption, Burkina Faso has improved steadily since 2013 and currently ranks above the regional average.

Burma

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The military regime has not demonstrated any awareness or commitment to responsible business. On the contrary, the regime had enacted policies and practices that undermine economic governance and the rule of law. Moreover, security forces are engaged in an escalating pattern of human rights abuses including mass detentions, extrajudicial killings, and violence deliberately targeting civilians. These human rights abuses have seriously also impacted the business community. Two foreign national business advisors were detained and put under house arrest without charge and one economic advisor was charged for violation of the official secrets acts, with no credible evidence provided to support the charge. Local businesspeople have been interrogated and subject to detention without charges by security forces. Several employees of local businesses have been killed by security forces.

Although there are labor unions, independent NGOs, and business associations in Burma, their ability to operate has been several constrained and in some cases these organizations have been openly targeted by the military regime’s security forces. Child and forced labor are present in Burma. For more information on the human rights and labor situation, please refer to the additional resources.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Secretariat suspended Burma’s participation in the EITI initiative following the military coup. Burmese government officials do not regularly participate in meetings of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, although several businesses, civil society organization, and diplomats participate in Burma country discussions.

The regime has not demonstrated an interest in protecting the environment. On the contrary, the regime has pursued environmentally destructive projects like hydro-electric dams. Illegal timber harvesting and mining have increased under the regime with little regard to existing environmental regulations.

The government of Burma is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, a supporter of the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers, or a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association. The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business is a civil society member of the International Code of Conduct Association.

9. Corruption

Although the pre-coup civilian government made some progress in addressing corruption, including opening — with U.S. support — two new Anti-Corruption Commission branch offices in November 2020, law enforcement and judicial institutions do not have the independence or capacity to be effective in the fight against corruption under the new military regime.  Corruption is rampant within the military, and the post-coup military regime appointed new members to the Anti-Corruption Commission. The military regime has used the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate politically motivated corruption charges, including against deposed State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and deposed President Win Myint. Business leaders whom the regime believes are not adequately supportive of the regime have been detained and charged with corruption and/or tax evasion.

In 2018, the government amended its anti-corruption law to give the ACC authority to scrutinize government procurements. Family members of politicians can also be prosecuted under the anti-corruption law, though office holders face higher penalties.

Some companies are legally required to have compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials. Under Burma’s Anti-Money Laundering Law, law firms, banks, and companies operating in the insurance and gemstone sectors are required to appoint compliance officers and conduct heightened due diligence on certain customers.

Burma does not have laws to counter conflicts-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement. However, prior to the coup the President’s office issued orders to prevent conflicts-of-interest for construction contracts and several ministries had put in place internal rules to avoid conflicts-of-interest in awarding tenders. In the private sector, some of Burma’s largest companies have developed anti-corruption policies, which they have published on-line.

Burma signed the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2005 and ratified it on December 20, 2012.

Burma is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

The military regime does not provide protection to NGOs investigating corruption.

Burundi

8. Responsible Business Conduct

According to the investment code, any new enterprise is required to consider environmental issues and employee rights in its investment and business plan.  The government has taken no comprehensive measures to implement policies or international standards regarding responsible business practices.  The government routinely engages investors about including public and community benefits in investment projects, but has no clearly defined standards.

There have not been any high-profile or controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights violations in the recent past.  No reliable information is available on the maintenance and enforcement of domestic laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protections, and environmental protections.  In January 2019, the BRB issued a regulation relating to the protection of consumers of financial products and services in view of the complexity and growing diversity of the range of the services and products offered in Burundi.

There are no corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards in place to protect the interests of shareholders.  There are no organizations focused specifically on RBC in the country.

As a member of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the government has acceded to the OECD due diligence mechanism and the regional system for certification and traceability of certain minerals extracted from national mines (tin, tantalum, and tungsten), as well as against conflict minerals that can be smuggled from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  However, some civil society organizations report a noticeable lack of transparency in the Burundian mining sector (including alleged involvement of GoB officials in the trafficking of gold from the DRC).

The government does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  There are no domestic transparency measures/policies that require the disclosure of payments made to the government.

9. Corruption

The government has an anti-corruption law as well as constitutional provisions on corruption, although these have not been implemented.  Cabinet members, parliamentarians, and officials appointed by presidential decree have immunity from prosecution on corruption charges, insulating them from accountability.  Laws designed to combat corruption do not extend to family members of officials or to political parties.

Article 60 of the April 2016 law “Bearing Measures for the Prevention and Punishment of Corruption and Related Offenses” regulates conflicts of interest, including in awarding government procurement.  Burundian legislation criminalizes bribery of public officials, but there is no specific requirement for private companies to establish internal codes of conduct.

Burundi is a signatory to the UN Anti-Corruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.  Burundi has also been a member of the East African Anti-Corruption Authority since joining the EAC in 2007.  The country does not provide protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.

A number of U.S. firms have noted corruption is an obstacle to direct investment in Burundi.  Corruption is most pervasive in the award of licenses and concessions, which takes place in a non-transparent environment with frequent allegations of bribery and cronyism.  Many customs officials are also reportedly corrupt, regularly extorting bribes from exporters and importers.

In April 2021, the National Assembly approved a law disbanding the anti-corruption court and the anti-corruption police unit.  The anti-corruption court’s authorities were transferred to the office of the attorney general and courts of appeals and the anticorruption police unit’s authorities were delegated to the judicial police.

President Ndayishimiye continued with anti-corruption initiatives including dismissing high-level officials as well as hundreds of other low-level officials accused of malfeasance.  In May 2021, President Ndayishimiye fired the Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism over acts that risked compromising the country’s economy and tarnishing its image, reportedly in connection with the improper disposition of state property.  He also fired the succeeding Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism for tarnishing the image of the country after it came to light that she included family members and friends in official delegations abroad.

Cabo Verde

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector, government, and regulators are increasingly aware of the importance of environmental and corporate social responsibility in Cabo Verde. The government encourages companies to engage in responsible business conduct. Many companies conduct campaigns to promote social awareness in areas such as health, environmental protection, and cultural preservation. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, private companies supported vulnerable populations with essential goods. Women represent 37.5 percent of elected parliamentarians, 33 percent of the government, and more than 30 percent of leadership in businesses.

9. Corruption

Cabo Verde has signed and ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. In Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Cabo Verde scored 58 points, ranked 39 in the world and second in the sub-Saharan Africa region. Under Cabo Verdean law, giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act punishable by up to eight years in prison. The Penal Code details punishments for crimes committed by an official during the exercise of public duties. The Penal Code and the Electoral Code address corruption in the context of electoral crimes, particularly the offering of advantages to voters by political parties or other actors involved in elections.

Cabo Verde’s Public Procurement Code requires that public officials involved in a public procurement process provide written disclosure of any personal interest resulting from a special connection to a bidder or potential bidder and recuse themselves from participation in the process.

In 2020, the Cabo Verdean government provided for the creation of the Corruption Prevention Council, an administrative body that will lead corruption prevention efforts in the country. In early 2022, the Prime Minister announced that the government would soon form the Council. Other institutions active in combating corruption include the Judicial Police, the Prosecuting Counsel, and the courts.

Cambodia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a small but growing awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) among businesses in Cambodia despite the fact that the government does not have explicit policies to promote them. RBC and CSR programs are most commonly found at larger and multinational companies in the country. U.S. companies, for example, have implemented a wide range of CSR activities to promote skills training, the environment, general health and well-being, and financial education. These programs have been warmly received by both the public and the government.

A number of economic land concessions in Cambodia have led to high profile land rights cases. The Cambodian government has recognized the problem, but in general, has not effectively and fairly resolved land rights claims. The Cambodian government does not have a national contact point for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) multinational enterprises guidelines and does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

9. Corruption

Corruption in Cambodia is endemic and widespread. An increase in foreign investment from investors willing to engage in corrupt practices, combined with sometimes opaque official and unofficial investment processes, further drives the overall rise in corruption. In its Global Competitiveness Report 2019, the World Economic Forum ranked Cambodia 134th out of 141 countries for incidence of corruption. Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception index ranked Cambodia 157 of 180 countries globally, the lowest ranking among ASEAN member states.

Those engaged in business have identified corruption, particularly within the judiciary, customs services, and tax authorities, as one of the greatest deterrents to investment in Cambodia. Foreign investors from countries that overlook or encourage bribery have significant advantages over foreign investors from countries that criminalize such activity.  In light of these concerns, on November 10, 2021, the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce issued a business advisory to caution U.S. businesses currently operating in, or considering operating, in Cambodia to be mindful of interactions with entities involved in corrupt business practices, criminal activities, and human rights abuses.

Cambodia adopted an Anti-Corruption Law in 2010 to combat corruption by criminalizing bribery, abuse of office, extortion, facilitation payments, and accepting bribes in the form of

donations or promises. Under the law, all civil servants must also declare their financial assets to the government every two years. Cambodia’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), established the same year, has investigative powers and a mandate to provide education and training to government institutions and the public on anti-corruption compliance. Since its formation, the ACU has launched a few high-profile prosecutions against public officials, including members of the police and judiciary, and has tackled the issue of ghost workers in the government, in which salaries are collected for non-existent employees.

The ACU, in collaboration with the private sector, has also established guidelines encouraging companies to create internal codes of conduct prohibiting bribery and corrupt practices. Companies can sign an MOU with the ACU pledging to operate corruption-free and to cooperate on anti-corruption efforts. Since the program started in 2015, more than 80 private companies have signed an MOU with the ACU. In 2018, the ACU completed a first draft of a code of conduct for public officials, which has not yet been finalized.

Despite the passage of the Anti-Corruption Law and creation of the ACU, enforcement remains weak. Local and foreign businesses report that they must often make informal payments to expedite business transactions. Since 2013, Cambodia has published the official fees for public services, but the practice of paying additional fees remains common.

Cambodia ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in 2007 and endorsed the Action Plan of the Asian Development Bank / OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific in 2003. Cambodia is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Cameroon

8. Responsible Business Conduct

U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of a formal definition of responsible business conduct (RBC) within the Cameroonian government. It does not have a national ombudsman for stakeholders to get information or raise concerns about RBC.  The government has not conducted a national action plan on RBC nor does it factor RBC into its procurement decisions. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are not aware of any recent high-profile instances of private sector impact on human rights. Cameroon does not have laws that regulate responsible business conduct. However, the government of Cameroon has enacted laws that cover issues related to what is locally considered corporate social responsibility. There are additional initiatives in the private sector to foster a corporate social responsibility culture.

All major infrastructure projects in Cameroon are compelled to conduct an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) to establish the impact of projects on people and nature. Cameroon’s ESIA law strives to follow World Bank standards. An August 1996 master law related to environmental management prescribes an environmental impact assessment for all projects that can cause environmental degradation.

The Cameroonian government struggles to enforce laws in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection. There is little corporate governance law in Cameroon, mostly since very few companies are open to portfolio investment. The Business Council for Good Governance, the American Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, and Transparency International promote RBC in Cameroon, though their ability to monitor RBC is limited. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of any government efforts to adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Cameroon participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments are lacking.

The economy of Cameroon is modernizing, but most sectors experience disruptions from informal activities. The informal sector provides crucial livelihoods to the most vulnerable in urban environments; however, labor conditions are generally precarious. In the agricultural sector, the government estimates that 70 percent of labor is informal with instances of child labor in subsistence agriculture. In other sectors, for example mining, allegations of human or labor rights abuses by Chinese mining companies have surfaced in the recent past. Indigenous forest communities also complain the government does not enforce logging concession laws.

9. Corruption

Corruption is punishable under sections 134 and 134 (a) of the Pena1 Code of Cameroon. Despite these rules, corruption remains endemic in the country. In 2021, Cameroon ranked 144 of 180 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Anti-corruption laws are applicable to all citizens and institutions throughout the national territory. Article 66 of the constitution requires civil servants and elected officials to declare their assets and property at the beginning and at the end of their tenure of office, but it has never been enforced, since the adoption of the constitution in 1996. Similarly, the Civil Service Statute contains provisions and the procedures to be followed in the event of a conflict of interest. These provisions are enshrined in Law No. 003/2006 of April 25, 2006, which also created the Commission for the declaration of property and assets. Other codes of conduct in different public institutions have created gift registers to prevent bribes, but they are not implemented. In terms of public contracts, Decree No. 2018/0001/PM of January 5, 2018 created a portal called Cameroon Online E-procurement System (Coleps) for the digitalization, including application processing, award, and monitoring and evaluation of all tenders. Since the launch of the portal, technical issues and disregard by civil servants have curbed its effectiveness, leading to the parallel continuation of the bribe-prone paper-based procurement system. U.S. firms indicate that corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, award of licenses or concessions, transfers, performance requirements, dispute settlement, regulatory system, customs, and taxation.

Since its inception in 2006 (Presidential Decree No. 2006/088 of March 11, 2006), the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) has encouraged private companies to establish internal codes of conduct and ethics committees to review practices. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of how many companies have instituted either program. Bribery of government officials remains common. While some companies use internal controls to detect and prevent such bribery, U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of how widespread these internal controls are.

Cameroon is signatory to the United Nations and the African Union anti-corruption initiatives, but the international initiatives have limited practical effects on the enforcement of laws in the country. U.S. Embassy Yaoundé officials are unaware of any NGO’s involvement in investigating corruption. The government prefers the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) to investigate potential cases.  U.S. companies cite corruption as among the top obstacles to investing in Cameroon and report its being most pervasive in government procurement, the award of licenses and concessions, customs, and taxation.

Canada

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Canada defines responsible business conduct (RBC) as “Canadian companies doing business abroad responsibly in an economic, social, and environmentally sustainable manner.” The Government of Canada has publicly committed to promoting RBC and expects and encourages Canadian companies working internationally to respect human rights and all applicable laws, to meet or exceed international RBC guidelines and standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner.

Canada encourages RBC by providing RBC-related guidance to the Canadian business community, including through Canadian embassies and missions abroad. Through its Fund for RBC, Global Affairs Canada provides funding to roughly 50 projects and initiatives annually. Canada also promotes RBC multilaterally through the OECD, the G7 Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation, and the Organization of American States. Canada promotes RBC through its trade and investment agreements via voluntary provisions for corporate social responsibility. Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service issued an Advisory to Canadian companies active abroad or with ties to Xinjiang, China in January 2021. The Advisory set clear compliance expectations for Canadian businesses with respect to forced labor and human rights involving Xinjiang.

The Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise is charged with receiving and reviewing claims of alleged human rights abuses involving Canadian companies foreign operations in the mining, oil and gas, and garment sectors. Contact information for making a complaint is available at: https://core-ombuds.canada.ca/core_ombuds-ocre_ombuds/index.aspx?lang=eng .

Canada is active in improving transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. The Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act was brought into force on June 1, 2015. The Act requires extractive entities active in Canada to publicly disclose, on an annual basis, specific payments made to all governments in Canada and abroad. Canada joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in February 2007, as a supporting country and donor. Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, “Doing Business the Canadian Way: A Strategy to Advance Corporate Social Responsibility in Canada’s Extractive Sector Abroad” is available on the Global Affairs Canada website: http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/other-autre/csr-strat-rse.aspx?lang=eng .

A comprehensive overview of Canadian RBC information is available at: https://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/topics-domaines/other-autre/csr-rse.aspx?lang=eng#:~:text=RBC%20is%20about%20Canadian%20companies,laws%20and%20internationally%20recognized%20standards .

Canada is working toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples including through the settlement of historical claims. The claims, made by First Nations against the Government of Canada, relate to the administration of land and other First Nation assets. As of March 2018 (the latest data provided by Canada), the Government of Canada has negotiated settlements on more than 460 specific claims. Hundreds of specific claims remain outstanding including 250 accepted for negotiation, 71 before the Specific Claims Tribunal, and 160 under review or assessment.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Corruption in Canada is low and similar to that found in the United States. Corruption is not an obstacle to foreign investment. Canada is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption, the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption.

Canada’s Criminal Code prohibits corruption, bribery, influence peddling, extortion, and abuse of office. The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act prohibits individuals and businesses from bribing foreign government officials to obtain influence and prohibits destruction or falsification of books and records to conceal corrupt payments. The law has extended jurisdiction that permits Canadian courts to prosecute corruption committed by Canadian companies and individuals abroad. Canada’s anti-corruption legislation is vigorously enforced, and companies and officials guilty of violating Canadian law are effectively investigated, prosecuted, and convicted of corruption-related crimes. In March 2014, Public Works and Government Services Canada (now Public Services and Procurement Canada, or PSPC) revised its Integrity Framework for government procurement to ban companies or their foreign affiliates for 10 years from winning government contracts if they have been convicted of corruption. In August 2015, the Canadian government revised the framework to allow suppliers to apply to have their ineligibility reduced to five years where the causes of conduct are addressed and no longer penalizes a supplier for the actions of an affiliate in which it was not involved. PSPC has a Code of Conduct for Procurement, which counters conflict-of-interest in awarding contracts. Canadian firms operating abroad must declare whether they or an affiliate are under charge or have been convicted under Canada’s anti-corruption laws during the past five years to receive assistance from the Trade Commissioner Service.

Chad

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) among firms in Chad. Most Western firms operating in Chad adhere to RBC, particularly those in the petroleum and telecommunications sectors. For example, Esso Exploration and Production Chad, Inc. (EEPCI), a significant oil producer, has implemented Environmental Management Plans (EMPs), prioritizing hiring local residents and local purchase of goods and services, establishing international safety standards, and protecting biodiversity. A critical part of EMP has been the Land Use Management Action Plan (LUMAP) that compensates individuals and communities for land used by the project. LUMAP has distributed approximately $1.7 million in cash, in-kind goods, and training. EMP’s efforts are complemented by the ExxonMobil Foundation, which supports projects to improve girls’ education and fight malaria.

Many foreign firms commit to extensive skill-building of local staff, purchasing local goods, and donating excess equipment to charities or local governments. Internet companies Airtel and Moov, as well as some banks, continue to engage in RBC focused on public awareness campaigns countering violent extremism and promoting social cohesion.

While work safety and environmental protection regulations exist, the government does not always enforce them, and companies do not always adhere to them. There are several local NGOs, particularly in the southern oil-producing regions, which monitor safety and environmental protection in the oil sector, and which have held government and private companies publicly accountable. EEPCI adheres to U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines for recording accidents and injuries and implements a rigorous program of safety procedures and protocols.

Chad joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2010. While private security companies do operate within Chad, they typically employ unarmed guards at private residences and business premises.

Department of State

  • Country Reports on Human Rights Practices ()
  • Trafficking in Persons Report ()
  • Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities ()

Department of Labor

  • Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report ( )
  • List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor ()
  • Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World ()
  • Comply Chain ()

9. Corruption

Foreign investors should be aware that corruption is endemic in Chad and constitutes a significant deterrent to nearly all economic activity, including foreign direct investment. Corruption is pervasive in many areas of government, including procurement, the awarding of licenses or concessions, dispute settlement, regulation enforcement, customs, and taxation.

Chad is not a signatory country of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Chad is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (“the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention”).

There is an independent Court of Auditors (Cour des Comptes), equivalent to a supreme audit institution (SAI), to enhance independent oversight of government decisions, although its members are nominated by presidential decree. Concurrently, the GOC created a General Inspectorate for State Control within the Presidency to oversee government accountability. No reports have been published, however. In addition to these bodies, prior to the April 2021 dissolution of the National Assembly, its Finance Committee had carried out verifications of the GOC’s annual financial statement though typically did not make audits publicly available. The creation of the transitional legislature’s (CNT) Commission Controle Budget Automone is currently expected to carry out a similar responsibility, though, to date, they have not published any verifications of the GOC’s annual financial statement.

A February 2000 anti-corruption law stipulates penalties for corruption. The law does not single out family members and political parties. As in many other developing countries, weak institutional capacity, a widespread and largely accepted practice of rent seeking, low salaries for most civil servants, judicial employees, and law enforcement officials, have contributed to pervasive corruption in Chad. According to Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2021 report, selective prosecutions of high-level officials were widely viewed as efforts to discredit those posing a threat to the former president or his allies. The report stated that security forces routinely stopped citizens on pretexts of minor traffic violations to extort money or confiscate goods.

To fight corruption and embezzlement, the Ministry of Finance and Budget set up a toll-free number (700), though it has not been working since 2018, after less than a full calendar year of connectivity. According to the Minister of Finance and Budget, the toll-free number 700 was designed to allow members of the public to alert the Inspectorate General of Finance to denounce any member of government who directly or indirectly solicits a bribe related their official duties, such as regarding administrative documents or tax payments. As of April 2022, the ministry confirms that they rely on postal mail for the lodging of these complaints and have no clear date for reestablishment of the compliant line. In addition to an unworking complaint line, there are no specific laws to counter conflict of interest, nor does the GOC require or encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct prohibiting bribery of public officials.

Local NGO Center for Studies and Research on Governance, Extractive Industries, and Sustainable Development (CERGIED), formerly GRAMP-TC (Groupe Alternatif de Recherche et de Monitoring de Petrole – Tchad), tracks government expenditures of oil revenue. There are no indications that anti-corruption laws are enforced differently for foreign investors than for Chadian citizens. There is no specific protection for NGOs involved in investigating corruption, which, to avoid repercussions, results in self-censorship of complaints about corrupt officials.

Chile

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of the need to ensure corporate social responsibility has grown over the last two decades in Chile. However, NGOs and academics who monitor this issue believe that risk mapping and management practices still do not sufficiently reflect its importance.

The government of Chile encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) principles and uses the United Nations’ Rio+20 Conference statements as its principal reference. Chile adhered in 1997 to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. It also recognizes the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy; the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; the UN Global Compact’s Ten Principles and the ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility. The government established a National Contact Point (NCP) for OECD MNE guidelines located at the Undersecretariat for International Economic Relations, and has a Responsible Business Conduct Division, whose chief is also the NCP. In August 2017, Chile released its National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights based on the UN Guiding Principles. Separately, the Council on Social Responsibility for Sustainable Development, coordinated by Chile’s Ministry of Economy, is currently developing a National Policy on Social Responsibility. On January 31, 2020, the CMF closed the public comments period on proposed new annual reporting requirements on social responsibility and sustainable development by publicly traded companies.

Regarding procurement decisions, ChileCompra, the agency in charge of centralizing Chile’s public procurement, incorporates the existence of a Clean Production Certificate and an ISO 14001-2004 certificate on environmental management as part of its criteria to assign public purchases.

No high profile or controversial instances of corporate impact on human rights have occurred in Chile in recent years.

The Chilean government effectively and fairly enforces domestic labor, employment, consumer, and environmental protection laws. There are no dispute settlement cases against Chile related to the Labor and Environment Chapters of the Free Trade Agreements signed by Chile.

Regarding the protection of shareholders, the Superintendence of Securities and Insurance (SVS) has the responsibility of regulating and supervising all listed companies in Chile. Companies are generally required to have an audit committee, a directors committee, an anti-money laundering committee and an anti-terrorism finance committee. Laws do not require companies to have a nominating/corporate governance committee or a compensation committee. Compensation programs are typically established by the board of directors and/or the directors committee.

Independent NGOs in Chile promote and freely monitor RBC. Examples include NGO Accion RSE: http://www.accionrse.cl/, the Catholic University of Valparaiso’s Center for Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development VINCULAR: http://www.vincular.cl/, ProHumana Foundation and the Andres Bello University’s Center Vitrina Ambiental.

Chile is an OECD member, but is not participating actively in the implementation of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.

Chile is not part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Chile joined The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies in 2009. However, there are no private security companies based in Chile participating in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

Chile applies, in a non-discriminatory manner, various laws to combat corruption of public officials, including the 2009 Transparency Law that mandated disclosure of public information related to all areas of government and created an autonomous Transparency Council in charge of overseeing its application. Subsequent amendments expanded the number of public trust positions required to release financial disclosure, mandated disclosure in greater detail, and allowed for stronger penalties for noncompliance.

In March 2020, the administration of former President Piñera proposed new legislation aimed at combatting corruption, as well as economic and electoral crimes. The four new pieces of legislation, part of the Piñera administration’s “anti-abuse agenda” launched in December 2019 in response to societal demands to increase penalties for white-collar crimes, seeks to strengthen enforcement and increase penalties for collusion among firms; increase penalties for insider trading; provide protections for whistleblowers seeking to expose state corruption; and expand the statute of limitations for electoral crimes.

Anti-corruption laws, in particular mandatory asset disclosure, do extend to family members of officials. Political parties are subject to laws that limit campaign financing and require transparency in party governance and contributions to parties and campaigns.

Regarding government procurement, the website of ChileCompra (central public procurement agency) allows users to anonymously report irregularities in procurement. There is a decree that defines sanctions for public officials who do not adequately justify direct contracts. The Corporate Criminal Liability Law provides that corporate entities can have their compliance programs certified. Chile’s Securities and Insurance Superintendence (SVS) authorizes a group of local firms to review companies’ compliance programs and certify them as sufficient. Certifying firms are listed on the SVS website.

Private companies have increasingly incorporated internal control measures, as well as ethics committees as part of their corporate governance, and compliance management sections. Additionally, Chile Transparente (Chilean branch of Transparency International) developed a Corruption Prevention System to provide assistance to private firms to facilitate their compliance with the Corporate Criminal Liability Law.

Chile signed and ratified the Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Corruption. The country also ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention on September 13, 2006. Chile is also an active member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and, as an OECD member, adopted the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

NGOs that investigate corruption operate in a free and adequately protected manner.

U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI.

China

9. Corruption

Since 2012, China has undergone a large-scale anti-corruption campaign, with investigations reaching into all sectors of the government, military, and economy. CCP General Secretary Xi labeled endemic corruption an “existential threat” to the very survival of the Party.  In 2018, the CCP restructured its Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) to become a state organ, calling the new body the National Supervisory Commission-Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (NSC-CCDI). The NSC-CCDI wields the power to investigate any public official.  From 2012 to 2021, the NSC-CCDI claimed it investigated roughly four million cases. In the first three quarters of 2021, the NSC-CCDI investigated 470,000 cases and disciplined 414,000 individuals, of whom 22 were at or above the provincial or ministerial level. Since 2014, the PRC’s overseas fugitive-hunting campaign, called “Operation Skynet,” has led to the capture of more than 9,500 fugitives suspected of corruption who were living in other countries, including over 2,200 CCP members and government employees. In most cases, the PRC did not notify host countries of these operations. In 2021, the government reported apprehending 1,273 alleged fugitives and recovering approximately USD 2.64 billion through this program.

In March 2021, the CCP Amendment 11 to the Criminal Law, which increased the maximum punishment for acts of corruption committed by private entities to life imprisonment, from the previous maximum of 15-year imprisonment, took effect. In June 2020 the CCP passed a law on Administrative Discipline for Public Officials, continuing efforts to strengthen supervision over individuals working in the public sector. The law enumerates targeted illicit activities such as bribery and misuse of public funds or assets for personal gain. Anecdotal information suggests anti-corruption measures are applied inconsistently and discretionarily.  For example, to fight commercial corruption in the medical sector, the health authorities issued “blacklists” of firms and agents involved in commercial bribery, including several foreign companies. While central government leadership has welcomed increased public participation in reporting suspected corruption at lower levels, direct criticism of central leadership or policies remains off-limits and is seen as an existential threat to China’s political and social stability. China ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2005 and participates in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and OECD anti-corruption initiatives. China has not signed the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, although PRC officials have expressed interest in participating in the OECD Working Group on Bribery as an observer. Corruption Investigations are led by government entities, and civil society has a limited scope in investigating corruption beyond reporting suspected corruption to central authorities.

Liaoning set up a provincial watchdog, known as the “Liaoning Business Environment Development Department” to inspect government disciplines and provide a mechanism for the public to report corruption and misbehaviors through a “government service platform.” In 2021, Liaoning reported handling 8,091 cases and recovering approximately USD 290 million in ill-gotten gains by government agencies and SOEs through this program.

Colombia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

In 2020, the Colombian government released its second National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for the period 2020-2022, which responds to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Colombia also adheres to the corporate social responsibility (CSR) principles outlined in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. CSR cuts across many industries and Colombia encourages public and private enterprises to follow OECD CSR guidelines. Beneficiaries of CSR programs include students, children, populations vulnerable to Colombia’s armed conflict, victims of violence, and the environment. Larger companies structure their CSR programs in accordance with accepted international principles. Companies in Colombia have been recognized on an international level for their CSR initiatives, including by the State Department.

9. Corruption

Corruption, and the perception of it, is a serious obstacle for companies operating or planning to invest in Colombia. Analyses of the business environment, such as the WEF Global Competitiveness Index, consistently cite corruption as a problematic factor, along with high tax rates, inadequate infrastructure, and inefficient government bureaucracy. Transparency International’s latest “Corruption Perceptions Index” ranked Colombia 87nd out of 180 countries assessed and assigned it a score of 39/100, a slight improvement from the year prior. Customs, taxation, and public works contracts are commonly-cited areas where corruption exist and there are multiple corruption convictions and investigations involving the highest levels of government, including former Supreme Court Justices, ministers, and regional governors.

Colombia has adopted the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and is a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Committee. It also passed a domestic anti-bribery law in 2016. In 2021, Colombia implemented a law that increased private sector responsibilities to implement internal prevention procedures and liability for participating in acts of corruption related to public contracting. Colombia has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention and adopted the OAS Convention against Corruption. The CTPA protects the integrity of procurement practices and criminalizes both offering and soliciting bribes to/from public officials. It requires both countries to make all laws, regulations, and procedures regarding any matter under the CTPA publicly available. Both countries must also establish procedures for reviews and appeals by any entities affected by actions, rulings, measures, or procedures under the CTPA.

Costa Rica

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporations in Costa Rica, particularly those in the export and tourism sectors, generally enjoy a positive reputation within the country as engines of growth and practitioners of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC).  The Costa Rica government actively highlights its role in attracting high-tech companies to Costa Rica; the strong RBC culture that many of those companies cultivate has become part of that winning package.  Large multinational companies commonly pursue RBC goals in line with their corporate goals and have found it beneficial to publicize RBC orientation and activities in Costa Rica.  Many smaller companies, particularly in the tourism sector, have integrated community outreach activities into their way of doing business. There is a general awareness of RBC among both producers and consumers in Costa Rica.

Multinational enterprises in Costa Rica have not been associated in recent decades in any systematic or high-profile way with alleged human or labor rights violations.  The Costa Rican government maintains and enforces laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protection and environmental protection.  Costa Rica has no legal mineral extraction industry with its accompanying issues, but illegal small scale gold mining, particularly in the north of the country, is a focal point of serious environmental damage, organized crime, and social disruption.  Large scale industrial agriculture is also occasionally the focus of health or environmental complaints, including in recent years the pineapple industry for allegedly affecting water supplies and a banana producer with many workers with rashes allegedly induced by pesticide use. The government appears to respond appropriately. Indigenous communities in specific areas of the country have longstanding grievances against non-indigenous encroachment on their reserves, which has led to recent incidents of violence.

Costa Rica encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow generally accepted RBC principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE) and maintains a national contact point for OECD MNE guidelines within the Ministry of Foreign Trade (see https://www.comex.go.cr/punto-nacional-de-contacto/  or  http://www.oecd.org/investment/mne/ncps.htm ). Costa Rica has been a participant since 2011 in the Montreux Document reaffirming the obligations of states regarding private military and security companies during armed conflict.

Costa Rica has a national climate strategy and a sophisticated system for monitoring natural capital, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. While the Central Bank compiles environmental accounts ( https://www.bccr.fi.cr/en/Economic-Indicators/environmental-accounts ), the Ministry of Environment and Energy oversees policies on environmental impact assessments and emissions. As part of Costa Rica’s nationally determined contribution to the United National Framework on Climate Change, Costa Rica targets maximum national net emissions in 2030 of 9.11 million tons of CO2. This number is consistent with the targeted trajectory of their National Decarbonization Plan which seeks to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Within the transportation sector Costa Rica aims to adopt standards to migrate towards a zero-emission motorcycle fleet by 2025, have 8% of their fleet of small vehicles be electric, and by 2030 have 8% of the public transportation fleet fully electric. There are currently no regulatory incentives or rebates for private sector contributions to achieve these goals. Costa Rican government efforts to reach net-zero emissions are largely limited to encouraging purchase and use of electric vehicles through tax reduction. In the absence of any significant budget for climate change response, the Costa Rican government necessarily relies on the private sector and international donors to implement its ambitions to be net zero by 2050. Costa Rica supports labels or designations meant to encourage good behavior with some considerable success: blue flag program at beaches and the Costa Rican country brand “Essential Costa Rica”. Official procurement policies do not include environmental or green growth considerations beyond those otherwise mandated by law.

9. Corruption

Costa Rica has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption. Though the resources available to enforce those laws are limited, Costa Rica’s institutional framework is strong, such that those cases that are prosecuted are generally perceived as legitimate. Anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials, contemplate conflict-of-interest in both procurement and contract award, and penalize bribery by local businessmen of both local and foreign government officials. Public officials convicted of receiving bribes are subject to prison sentences up to ten years, according to the Costa Rican Criminal Code (Articles 347-360). Entrepreneurs may not deduct the costs of bribes or any other criminal activity as business expenses. In recent decades, Costa Rica saw several publicized cases of firms prosecuted under the terms of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Costa Rica ratified the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption in 1997. This initiative of the OECD and the Organization of American States (OAS) obligates subscribing nations to implement criminal sanctions for corruption and implies a series of follow up actions: http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/cri.htm . Costa Rica also ratified the UN Anti-Corruption Convention in March 2007, has been a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2012, and as of July 2017 is a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials.

The Costa Rican government has encouraged civil society interest in good governance, open government and fiscal transparency, with a number of NGO’s operating unimpeded in this space. While U.S. firms do not identify corruption as a major obstacle to doing business in Costa Rica, some have made allegations of corruption in the administration of public tenders and in approvals or timely processing of permits. Developers of tourism facilities periodically cite municipal-level corruption as a problem when attempting to gain a concession to build and operate in the restricted maritime zone.

For further material on anti-bribery and corruption in Costa Rica, see the 2020 OECD study: https://www.oecd.org/countries/costarica/costa-rica-has-improved-its-foreign-bribery-legislation-but-must-strengthen-enforcement-and-close-legal-loopholes.htm 

Also on the OECD website, information relating to Costa Rica’s membership in the OECD anti-bribery convention: https://www.oecd.org/countries/costarica/costarica-oecdanti-briberyconvention.htm 

Côte d’Ivoire

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector, the government, NGOs, and local communities are becoming progressively aware of the importance of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) regarding environmental, social, and governance issues in CDI.

Investors seeking to implement projects in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, waste management, and extractive industries are required by decree to provide an environmental impact study prior to approval.  Under the new development plan and sustainable finance regime, government has laid down specific criteria to review, select, fund, and monitor private investment with the goal of channeling funds into priority sectors.  Foreign businesses, particularly in mining, energy, and agriculture, often provide social infrastructure, including schools and health care clinics, to communities close to their sites of operation.  Companies are not required under Ivoirian law to disclose information relating to RBC, although many companies, especially in the cocoa sector, publicize their work.  Cocoa companies publicize efforts to improve sustainability and combat the worst forms of child labor.  As a part of public-procurement reform, the Ministry of Budget plans to include social needs in public-procurement contracts to support job creation, fair trade, decent working conditions, social inclusion, and compliance with social standards.  On the environment, suggested reforms include the selection of goods and services that have a smaller impact on the environment.

There are reports of children subjected to forced labor in agricultural work, particularly on cocoa farms.  In February 2021, several individuals from Mali sued major international chocolate companies, claiming that the cocoa they bought came from farms in Côte d’Ivoire where the plaintiffs were subjected to abuse.

The government, through the Ministry of Employment and Social Protection, sets workplace health and safety standards and is responsible for enforcing labor laws.

The OHADA outlines corporate governance standards that protect shareholders.

There are government-funded agencies in charge of monitoring business conduct.  Human rights, environmental protection, and other NGOs report misconduct and violations of good governance practices.

Côte d’Ivoire participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and discloses revenues and payments in the oil, gas, and mineral sectors.  More information can be found at: www.cnitie.ci/.

Côte d’Ivoire is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.  Some private security companies operating in the country are participants of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association (ICoCA).

This year, government took active measures against State Owned Enterprises not paying their local contractors, generally SMEs.  After the FER general manager was removed, the acting manager made immediate payments to concerned SMEs.

9. Corruption

Many companies cite corruption as the most significant obstacle to investment.  Corruption in many forms is deeply ingrained in public- and private-sector practices and remains a serious impediment to investment and economic growth in CDI.  It has the greatest impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues.  Lack of transparency and the government’s failure to follow its own tendering procedures in the awarding of contracts lead businesses to conclude bribery was involved.  Businesses have reported encountering corruption at every level of the civil service, with some judges appearing to base their decisions on bribes. Clearance of goods at the ports often requires substantial “commissions.”  The demand for bribes can mean that containers stay at the Port of Abidjan for months, incurring substantial demurrage charges, despite companies having the proper paperwork.

In 2013, the Ivoirian government issued Executive Order number 2013-660 related to preventing and combatting corruption.  The High Authority for Good Governance serves as the government’s anti-corruption authority.  Its mandate includes raising awareness about corruption, investigating corruption in the public and private sectors, and collecting mandated asset disclosures from certain public officials (e.g., the president, ministers, and mayors) upon entering and leaving office.  The High Authority for Good Governance, however, does not have a mandate to prosecute; it must refer cases to the Attorney General who decides whether to take up those cases.  The country’s financial intelligence office, CENTIF, has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials.

Despite the establishment of these bodies and credible allegations of widespread corruption, there have been few charges filed, and few prosecutions and judgments against prominent people for corruption.  The domestic business community generally assesses that these watchdog agencies lack the power and/or will to combat corruption effectively.  In April 2021, the government formally added Good Governance and Anti-Corruption to the title and portfolio of the Ministry of Capacity Building.

Côte d’Ivoire ratified the UN Anti-Corruption Convention, but the country is not a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (which is open to non-OECD members).  In 2016, Côte d’Ivoire joined the Partnership on Illicit Finance, which obliges it to develop an action plan to combat corruption.

Under the Ivoirian Penal Code, a bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a criminal act. Some private companies use compliance programs or measures to prevent bribery of government officials.  U.S. firms underscore to their Ivoirian counterparts that they are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  Anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials and to political parties.  The country’s Code of Public Procurement No. 259 and the associated WAEMU directives cover conflicts-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

There are no special protections for NGOs involved in investigating corruption.  Whistleblower protections are also weak.

Resources to Report Corruption

Inspector General of Finance
(Brigade de Lutte Contre la Corruption)
Mr. Lassina Sylla
Inspector General
TELEPHONE: +225 20212000/2252 9797
FAX: +225 20211082/2252 9798
HOTLINE: +225 8000 0380
http://www.igf.finances.gouv.ci/
info@igf.finances.gouv.ci

High Authority for Good Governance
(Haute Autorité pour la Bonne Gouvernance)
Mr. N’Golo Coulibaly
President
TELEPHONE: +225 272 2479 5000
FAX: +225 2247 8261
https://habg.ci/
Email: info@habg.ci

Police Anti-Racketeering Unit
(Unité de Lutte Contre le Racket –ULCR)
Mr. Alain Oura
Unit Commander
TELEPHONE: +225 272 244 9256
info@ulcr.ci

Social Justice
(Initiative pour la Justice Sociale, la Transparence et la Bonne Gouvernance en Côte d’Ivoire)
Ananeraie face pharmacie Mamie Adjoua
Abidjan
TELEPHONE:  +225 272 177 6373
socialjustice.ci@gmail.com

Croatia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of societal expectations regarding responsible business conduct which is regulated by law.  The Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency has established a Corporate Governance Code of Ethics for all Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) participants, and the Company Act, Audit Law, Accounting Law and Credit Institutions Law are the sources for corporate governance provisions.  Publicly listed companies are required to upload their annual corporate governance reports on the ZSE website.  The Governance Code lays out guidelines for ensuring transparency of business operations, avoidance of conflicts of interest, efficient internal control, and effective division of responsibilities.

No high profile or controversial instances of private sector labor rights violations have occurred in Croatia.  There were no claims during the last five years by indigenous or other communities that a government entity improperly allocated land or natural resources. Forced labor, forced evictions of indigenous peoples, or arrests of and violence against environmental defenders are not permitted by law. The government effectively implements and enforces domestic laws to maintain consumer and environmental protection and avoid infringement of human and labor rights. Sometimes these regulations exceed EU standards.  Croatia implements all EU legislation which requires a due diligence approach to responsible business conduct.  Labor unions are considered watchdogs for responsible business conduct and draw attention to issues they find to be impeding on labor, environmental, or consumer rights in the business sector. In terms of security, the government employs private security companies for security of buildings. Security for defense purposes is handled by Croatian state authorities, such as the army or police forces. Croatia became a signatory of the Montreaux Document on Private Military and Security Companies in May 2013. Croatia is not currently a supporter of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers, nor a member of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers Association.

Although Croatia is not a member, Croatia supports the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas and considers minerals from conflict affected areas to be illegal.  Croatia does not participate in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative.  Various laws related to forest and water management, concessions, and environmental protection are implemented in extractive and mining businesses to maintain high environmental and human rights standards.  All procedures for mining or extraction tenders are publicly available and transparent.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Croatia has a suitable legal framework, including laws and penalties, to combat corruption.  The Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Act define the tools and sanctions available to the investigative authorities to fight corruption and both acts provide for asset seizure and forfeiture.  In terms of a corruption case, where the defendant has assets that are determined to be disproportionate to his/her lawful income, it is presumed by law that the defendant’s property was acquired through criminal means. In such cases, the onus is on the defendant to prove the legal origin of the assets in question.  Financial gain, if it is in possession of a third party in such cases can also be confiscated if it is determined the gain was not acquired in good faith. However, the good faith principle does not apply to a spouse, relatives, or family members.  Croatian laws and provisions regarding corruption apply equally to domestic and foreign investors, to public officials, their family members and political parties.  The Croatian Criminal Code covers such acts as trading in influence, abuse of official functions, bribery in the private sector, embezzlement of private property, money laundering, concealment and obstruction of justice.  The Act on the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime provides broad authority to prosecute tax fraud linked to organized crime and corruption cases.

The Croatian Parliament adopted a new Anti-Corruption Strategy for 2021-2030 to strengthen existing anti-corruption administrative and legal mechanisms. It also aims to identify new, systemic solutions to raise awareness of the harmful effects of corruption, increase citizen involvement, and utilize civil society and the media as indispensable institutional partners to prevent and fight corruption. Croatian prosecutors have secured corruption convictions and launched investigations against a number of high-level former government officials, former ministers, other high-ranking officials, and senior managers from state-owned enterprises, although many such convictions have later been overturned.

The Law on Public Procurement is harmonized with EU legislation and prescribes transparency and fairness for all public procurement activities.  Government officials use public speeches to encourage ethical business.  The Croatian Chamber of Economy created a Code of Business Ethics which it encourages all companies in Croatia to abide by, but it is not mandatory. The Code can be found in Croatian at:   https://www.hgk.hr/documents/kodeksposlovneetikehrweb581354cae65c8.pdf .

Additional laws for the suppression of corruption include: the State Attorney’s Office Act; the Public Procurement Act; the Act on Procedure for Forfeiture of Assets Attained Through Criminal Acts and Misdemeanors; the Budget Act; the Conflict of Interest Prevention Act; the Corporate Criminal Liability Act; the Money Laundering Prevention Act; the Witness Protection Act; the Personal Data Protection Act; the Right to Access Information Act; and the Act on Civil Services. Other regulations include the Code of Ethics for Civil Servants and the Code of Judicial Ethics. Whistleblowers are protected by the Law on the Protection of Irregularities, as well as by provisions in the Labor Law and the Civil Servants Act.

Croatia has requested to join the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Croatia is a member and currently chairs the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), a peer monitoring organization that allows members to assess anticorruption efforts on a continuing basis.  Croatia has been a member of INTERPOL since 1992.  Croatia cooperates regionally through the Southeast European Co-operative Initiative (SECI), the Southeast Europe Police Chiefs Association (SEPCA), and the Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative (RAI).  Croatia is a member of Eurojust, the EU’s Judicial Cooperation Unit, and is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption.

Croatian legislation provides protection for NGOs involved in investigating or drawing attention to corruption.  GONG, a non-partisan citizens’ organization founded in 1997, which also acts as a government watchdog, monitors election processes, educates citizens about their rights and duties, encourages communication between citizens and their elected representatives, promotes transparency within public services, manages public advocacy campaigns, and assists citizens in self-organizing initiatives.  A new anti-corruption association, Udruga Pomak, was formed by a group of prominent whistleblowers to advocate for greater whistleblower protections.  Even though the law provides for the protection of whistleblowers, in practice there are still issues.

The business community has identified corruption in the healthcare and construction sectors, as well as lack of transparency in the public procurement process as obstacles to foreign investment.

Cyprus

8. Responsible Business Conduct

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

In recent years, responsible business conduct (RBC) awareness among both producers and consumers is growing in Cyprus. Leading foreign and domestic enterprises tend to follow generally accepted RBC principles, and firms pursuing these practices tend to be viewed more favorably by the public. The Cyprus Stock Exchange is among the entities imposing a responsible code of conduct. Most professional associations also promote ethical business conduct among their members, including the Cyprus Bar Association, and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus. For example, the Cyprus Integrity Forum promotes transparency and accountability in business through its Business Integrity Forum certification program – see: https://cyprusintegrityforum.org/business-integrity-forum/ .

The ROC does not specifically adhere to OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; however, multinationals are expected to follow generally accepted RBC principles. ROC authorities have made some initial soundings considering the possibility of eventually joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI – https://www.eiti.org/ ).

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

RBC awareness has grown among both producers, consumers and business in the area administrated by Turkish Cypriots. Firms pursuing these practices tend to be viewed favorably by the public.

9. Corruption

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

Corruption continues to undermine growth and investment in the ROC, despite the existence of a strong-anti corruption framework. Ninety-five percent of Cypriots think the problem of corruption is widespread, compared to an average of 71 percent in the EU, according to a Eurobarometer survey on corruption conducted by the European Commission in December 2019. In the same survey, 60 percent of Cypriots said they were personally affected by corruption in their daily life, compared to an average of just 26 across the EU. Perhaps even more alarmingly, 69 percent of Cypriots said they thought the level corruption had increased in the past three years, against 42 percent in the EU, who thought the same for their countries. Cypriots put political parties at the top of their list of groups they thought perpetrated corruption (at 63 percent), followed by the healthcare system (59 percent), the police/customs (53 percent), and officials awarding public tenders (52 percent). Corruption, both in the public and private sectors, constitutes a criminal offense. Under the Constitution, the Auditor General controls all government disbursements and receipts and has the right to inspect all accounts on behalf of the Republic, and fear of the Auditor General’s scrutiny is widespread. Government officials sometimes manage procurement efforts with greater concern for the Auditor General than for getting the best outcome for the taxpayer. Private sector concerns focus on the inertia in the system, as reflected in the Auditor General’s annual reports, listing hundreds of alleged incidents of corruption and mismanagement in public administration that usually remain unpunished or unrectified.

Transparency International, the global anti-corruption watchdog, ranked Cyprus 52nd out of 180 countries in its 2021 Corruption Perception Index – from 42nd the year before. Disagreements between the Berlin-based headquarters of Transparency International and its Cypriot division in 2017 led to the dis-accreditation of the latter in 2017 and the launch of a successor organization on the island called the Cyprus Integrity Forum (contact details follow).

GAN Integrity, a business anti-corruption portal with offices in the United States and Denmark, released a report on corruption in Cyprus April 2018 noting the following: “Although Cyprus is generally free from corruption, high-profile corruption cases in recent years have highlighted the presence of corruption risks in the Cypriot banking sector, public procurement, and land administration sector. Businesses may encounter demands for irregular payments, but the government has established a strong legal framework to combat corruption and generally implements it effectively. Bribery, facilitation payments and giving or receiving gifts are criminal offenses under Cypriot law. The government has a strong anti-corruption framework and has developed effective e-governance systems (the Point of Single Contact and the e-Government Gateway project) to assist businesses.” The report can be accessed at: https://www.ganintegrity.com/portal/country-profiles/cyprus/ .

Cyprus cooperates closely with EU and other international authorities to fight corruption and provide mutual assistance in criminal investigations. Cyprus ratified the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. Cyprus also uses the foreign Tribunal Evidence Law, Chapter 12, to execute requests from other countries for obtaining evidence in Cyprus in criminal matters. Additionally, Cyprus is an active participant in the Council of Europe’s Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption. Cyprus signed and ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and has joined the Group of States against Corruption in the Council of Europe (GRECO). GRECO’s second compliance report on Cyprus, released November 17, 2020, is available at: https://www.coe.int/en/web/greco/evaluations/cyprus .

Cyprus is also a member of the UN Anticorruption Convention but it is not a member of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Czechia

8. Responsible Business Conduct  

The concept of responsible business conduct (RBC) is now widely understood, and every year is implemented by more companies in the Czech Republic.  As an adherent to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE) and to the United Nations Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights, the government promotes corporate social responsibility (CSR) and encourages local as well as foreign enterprises to adopt a ‘due diligence’ approach to RBC principles.  The Czech National Contact Point (NCP) has operated since 2013 at MOIT:  https://www.mpo.cz/dokument75865.html. The NCP working group consists of representatives of the government, employer organizations (Confederation of Industry and Trade), employee organizations (Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions), and NGOs.  The NCP closely and actively cooperates with other regional NCPs to share best practices, procedures, and experience.

In conjunction with the UN Commission on Business and Human Rights, in 2019 the Czech government approved a National Action Plan (NAP) for CSR for the years 2019-2023.  The major goal of the NAP is to establish fundamental principles and to motivate businesses and public administration to voluntarily implement specific CSR projects.  In 2015, the Sustainable Development Section of the Quality Council of the Czech Republic created a national Informational CSR Portal that provides businesses, NGOs, representatives of state administration, and the public with updates related to CSR in the Czech Republic.

The government strictly and effectively enforces legislation in the area of human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection to protect individuals from adverse business impacts.  Domestic standards are generally very high.  Negligence or failure to comply with this legislation results in serious consequences.

Shareholders are protected by legislation that clearly describes legal processes, organizational structures, administration, and management of all business components, including stakeholders.

Companies are not required to publicly disclose information about their RBC or CSR activities.  Various local NGOs monitor and advise CSR programs, such as the Association for Corporate Social Responsibility, the Business Leaders Forum, and Business for Society.  The Association for CSR is the host entity in the Czech Republic for the UN Global Compact, a UN strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with 10 universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

Payments for extraction of minerals in the Czech Republic abide by the Mining Law, which requires that payments are processed for extracted minerals as well as for mined areas.  International trade with oil, natural gas, and minerals is not subject to any special legislation; it follows the general rules of international trade.  The Czech Republic is not an Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)-compliant country or an EITI candidate.  The Czech government adheres to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.  MOIT is responsible for implementation and compliance.

The Czech Republic joined The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies on November 14, 2013.

9. Corruption  

Current law criminalizes both payment and receipt of bribes, regardless of the perpetrator’s nationality.  Prison sentences for bribery or abuse of power can be as high as 12 years for officials.  There have been several successful cases prosecuting corruption, though some experts have noted proceedings can be lengthy and subject to delays.  The National Center for Organized Crime (NCOZ) is primarily responsible for investigating high-level corruption cases, however some experts have raised concerns about cumbersome procedural requirements.  Anti-corruption laws authorize seizures of proceeds or instruments of crime and apply equally to Czech and foreign investors.

Czech law obliges legislators, members of the cabinet, and other selected public officials to declare their assets annually.  Summarized declarations are available online and complete declarations are available upon request from the Ministry of Justice, which can impose penalties of up to CZK50,000 (approximately USD2,170) for non-compliance.  The law also requires judges, prosecutors and directors of research institutions to disclose their assets, however their declarations are not publicly available for security reasons.

In addition to the financial disclosure law, the government regulates political parties financing, public procurements, and the register of public contracts.  The law on the register of public contracts requires all national, regional, and local authorities as well as private companies to make publicly available all newly concluded contracts (including subsidies and repayable financial assistance) valued at CZK50,000 (USD2,170) or more within 30 days; noncompliance renders contracts null and void.  Additionally, as of November 2019, major state-owned companies are required to publish all contracts, except in limited circumstances.  The Registry of Contracts has a website in Czech only at: https://smlouvy.gov.cz/.

Public procurement law requires every contracting authority to post winning contracts on its website within 15 working days of signing.  Subject to limited exceptions, the law mandates more than one bidder for all public procurements and requires bidders to disclose their ownership structure prior to bidding.  In addition to general conflict-of-interest law, the procurement law also addresses some conflict-of-interest issues related to government procurements.   The Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) evaluation report listed missing whistleblower protection and regulation of lobbying as problematic.

The “Beneficial Ownership Bill” came into force in June 1, 2021.  The law is a part of a transposition of an EU convention on anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing and requires transparency regarding the real (or “beneficial”) ownership of companies seeking subsidies or public contracts.  The law bars anonymously owned companies from applying for public subsidies or tenders, although it does not empower officials to challenge discrepancies or irregularities in a company’s ownership structure, absent a court finding.  However, the European Commission asserted in December 2021 that the Czech law does not meet EU requirements, because it allows two types of owners to be listed for one company:  one with “final influence” and one who is the “final recipient of benefits”.  The European Commission also criticized the carveout that public research institutions, SOEs, political parties, schools, and some other associations are not required to declare their beneficial ownership.  The Czech government reported March 2022 it would make changes to the law to comply with EU requirements.

According to a law which came into force in January 2020, candidates filling supervisory board positions in state-owned companies must be selected in a clear, transparent process that prioritizes technical expertise and is reviewed by an advisory committee whose members are apolitical experts.  Separately, the government recommends companies maintain internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.

The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body MONEYVAL reported at the end of 2021 that the Czech Republic has considerably improved its implementation of measures against money laundering and terrorist financing since 2020.

The government ratified the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2000 and the UN Convention against Corruption in 2014.  According to the 2017 OECD Phase 4 Evaluation Report, the Czech Republic should take steps to improve enforcement of its foreign bribery laws, enhance efforts to detect, investigate, and prosecute foreign bribes, increase protections for whistleblowers, and better implement the criminal liability of the legal entities law.

Several NGOs such as Frank Bold, Transparency International, and Anticorruption Endowment Fund receive corruption reports online.  The reports most frequently involve minor offenses, such as attempts to bribe police officers or other public officials to receive benefits or avoid liability.  While there is not a specific law to protect NGOs involved in investigating corruption, NGO activities are protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom that protects civil society and free speech.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The DRC has not defined Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) for most industries, but the Labor Code includes provisions to protect employees, and there are legal provisions that require companies to protect the environment. The Global Compact Network DRC, a public-private consortium affiliated with the United Nations, encourages companies operating locally to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies.

The GDRC has taken actions of limited impact to support RBC by encouraging companies to develop and adhere to a code of ethics and respect for labor rights and the environment. However, the DRC does not possess a legal framework to protect the rights of consumers, and there are no existing domestic laws to protect individuals from adverse business impacts.

Reports of children working in the DRC’s artisanal mines has led to international pressure to find ways to ensure the DRC’s minerals supply chain is free of child labor. Concerns over the use of child labor in the artisanal mining of copper and cobalt have led to worries about the use of Congolese resources served to discourage potential purchasers. USG assistance programs to build capacity for labor inspections and enforcement are helping to address these concerns.

Development pressures have resulted in reports of violations of environmental rights. In one case, a prominent local businessman is seeking to develop a dam in a national park in the southeastern province of Haut Katanga. There is a case in eastern DRC of a local developer pressuring an environmental defender to end his activism.

There are no known high-profile and controversial cases of private sector entities having a negative impact on human rights.

With regard to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, and other laws/regulations designed to protect individuals from the adverse effects of business, the GDRC faces many challenges in enforcing domestic laws effectively and fairly.

The GDRC has no known corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards to protect shareholders.

There are independent NGOs, human rights organizations, environmental organizations, worker/trade union organizations, and business associations that promote or monitor RBC and report misconduct and violation of good governance practices. They monitor and/or defend RBC and are able to do their work freely.

The DRC has adopted OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas as defined by the United Nations Group of Experts, as well as various resolutions of the UN Security Council related to business and human rights in the Congolese mining sector. There are also existing domestic measures requiring supply chain due diligence for companies that source minerals that may originate from conflict-affected areas in DRC.

The DRC participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. More information is available at https://www.itierdc.net/ . The DRC publishes reports on its revenue from natural resources. There are domestic transparency measures requiring disclosure of payments to governments and of RBC/Business and Human Rights policies or practices. The mining code provides domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments, though they appear to be infrequently enforced. PROMINES, a technical parastatal body financed by the GDRC and the World Bank, aims to improve the transparency of the artisanal mining sector. Amnesty International and Pact Inc. have also published reports related to RBC in the DRC mining sector.

The DRC has a private security industry but is not a party to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. It does not support the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers, nor does it participate in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

The DRC constitution and legal code include laws intended to fight corruption and bribery by all citizens, including public officials. The Tshisekedi government has used public prosecutions of high-level officials and the creation of an anti-corruption unit (APLC) to improve the DRC’s anti-corruption enforcement. Prosecutions have led to jail terms but often subsequent early releases. The 2021 edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked the DRC 169th out of 180 countries, with a score of 19 out of 100, up from 18 out of 100 the previous year.

Anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials and political parties. In March 2020, President Tshisekedi created the National Agency for the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption (APLC). Currently corruption investigations are ongoing for three Managing Directors of SOEs.

The country has laws or regulations to address conflicts of interest in the awarding of public contracts or procurement. Conflicts of interest committed in the context of a public contract and a delegation of public service are punishable by a fine of USD 12,500 to USD25,000.

The government through regulatory authorities encourages or requires private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.

Law 017-2002 of 2002, establishes the code of conduct for public officials, which provides rules of conduct in terms of moral integrity and professional ethics and the fight against corruption in socio-professional environments. Private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

The DRC is a signatory to both the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption but has not fully ratified the latter. The DRC is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. The DRC ratified a protocol agreement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on fighting corruption.

NGOs such as the consortium “The Congo is Not for Sale,” have an important role in revealing corrupt practices, and the law protects NGOs in a whistleblower role. However, in 2021 whistleblowers from Afriland First Bank that alleged to the international NGO Global Witness interaction between sanctioned individual Dan Gertler and the bank were subjected to prosecution and, in a private proceeding, sentenced to death in absentia. Although the government worked with Global Witness to contest the case, it remained unresolved as of early 2022. NGOs report governmental or other hindrance to their efforts to publicize and/or address corruption. The Observatory of Public Expenditure (ODEP), which works with civil society organizations, raises awareness of the social impact of the execution of finance laws in order to improve transparency and accountability in the management of public finances; to participate in the fight against corruption; and to promote citizen involvement in each stage of the budget process.

U.S. firms see corruption and harassment by local security forces as one of the main hurdles to investment in the DRC, particularly in the awarding of concessions, government procurement, and taxation treatment.

Denmark

8. Responsible Business Conduct

As an OECD member, Denmark promotes, through the Danish Business Authority (DBA), the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Denmark’s National Contact Point can be reached at: mneguidelines.oecd.org/National-Contact-Points-Website-Contact-Details.pdf 

From January 1, 2016, the largest companies must account for their responsible business conduct, including with respect to human rights and to reducing the climate impact of the company’s activities. Additionally, target figures for the gender composition of the board of directors, as well as policies for increasing the proportion of the underrepresented gender at the company’s management levels, must be reported (Danish Financial Statements Act, sections 99a and 99b). The mandate has also applied to medium-sized businesses (exempting small and micro companies) since January 2018.

The DBA published a National Action Plan to advance Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) in Denmark in 2012, covering the 2012 – 2015 period. It contained 42 initiatives focusing on business-driven CSR. In October 2019, the government launched a public hearing process to “investigate how reporting can be made more comparable and create more transparency for the benefit of society and the companies themselves. The purpose is to increase transparency about whether companies are living up to their corporate social responsibility, that sustainable companies have better access to investment and that companies experience a positive value from their CSR reporting.” The government received recommendations in October 2020 and is working on new initiatives. The government hosts www.csrkompasset.dk/  (English language version www.csrcompass.com/ ), a free online tool that can help companies implement responsible supply chain management. The tool is targeted at small and medium-sized production, trade, and service companies. The structure of the CSR Compass and its advice and guidelines are in line with national and international trends and best practice standards, including the UN Global Compact, OECD’s guidelines for multinational companies, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), the Danish Ethical Trading Initiative (DIEH), and the Danish Council on Corporate Social Responsibility’s guidelines for responsible supply chain management.

Denmark is a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.

9. Corruption

Denmark is perceived as the least corrupt country in the world according to the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, which has local representation in Denmark. The Ministry of Justice is responsible for combating corruption, which is covered under the Danish Penal Code. Penalties for violations range from fines to imprisonment of up to four years for a private individual’s involvement and up to six years for a public employee’s involvement. Since 1998, Danish businesses cannot claim a tax deduction for the cost of bribes paid to officials abroad.

Denmark is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery, the UN Anticorruption Convention, and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery. In the Working Group’s 2015 Phase 3 follow-up report on Denmark, the Working Group concluded “that Denmark has partially implemented most of its Phase 3 recommendations. However, concerns remain over Denmark’s enforcement of the foreign bribery offence.”

Djibouti

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is nascent but growing awareness among both companies and consumers in Djibouti of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC). Businesses which might harm the environment are, in general, obligated to conduct studies on the environmental impact before proceeding with their project. The government does not promote RBC in a systematic way, although it does acknowledge good corporate social responsibility and covers it favorably in state media. However, the government does not factor RBC policies or practices into its procurement decisions. There are no corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards to protect stakeholders. The government does not adhere to OECD guidelines in RBC matters. There have been reports that the government does not effectively and fairly enforce domestic laws relating to labor rights, environmental protections, consumer protections, and human rights. There are no independent NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations, or associations that monitor RBC in Djibouti. Djibouti has a salt extraction industry, but it does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;

Trafficking in Persons Report;

Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities;

U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and;

Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory 

Department of the Treasury

OFAC Recent Actions

Department of Labor

Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report;

List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor;

Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World and;

Comply Chain

 

The national climate strategy includes a number of actions to strengthen or build capacity in the field with a view of reducing the vulnerability of the coastal zone to climate change. Priority is on addressing extreme floods, inundations, and marine submersion.

Post is not aware of any government introduction of policies to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

There are government policies that establish marine protected areas in order to contribute to the conservation of Djibouti’s marine biodiversity and other desirable ecological benefits.

In order to support coastal populations affected by climate change, the government has put in place a program to improve their resilience and mitigate their vulnerability while adopting a co-management approach to protect marine resources.

9. Corruption

Djibouti has several laws to combat corruption by public officials. These laws were either passed by the government or contained in the Penal Code. However, there have been no records of cases to combat corruption by public officials. Corruption laws are extended to all family members of officials and across political parties, but they have not been applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Djibouti ranked 128 of 180 countries on the 2021 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Djibouti does not have laws or regulations to counter conflict-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

Djibouti is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption. There are two government entities responsible for investigating corruption and enforcing the regulations. The State Inspector General (SGI) is tasked with ensuring human and material resources in the public sector are properly utilized. The Court of Auditors is mandated to verify and audit all public establishments for transparency and accountability, and to implement necessary legal sanctions. Both institutions are mandated to produce annual corruption reports. Despite the legal mandates, both institutions lack the authority to push for meaningful reform. The National Commission for Anti-Corruption is also mandated to enforce the laws on combatting corruption and provide safe haven for whistleblowers. This Commission launched a program in March 2018 to urge high-ranking government officials to publicly declare all of their assets, with little success. The contracting code and other laws passed by Djibouti contain provisions to counter conflict-of-interest contracts or government procurement.

According to a law passed in 2013, the government requires private and public companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prevent and prohibit bribery of public officials. However, these codes have not been implemented. Likewise, the government requirement that private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance to detect and prevent bribery of government officials is not enforced. Djibouti is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Djibouti is a signatory country of the UN Convention against Corruption.

U.S. firms have not specifically noted corruption as an obstacle to foreign direct investment in Djibouti, but there were allegations of foreign companies having to meet requirements such as renting houses owned by senior officials or hiring certain employees as a condition of receiving government procurement contracts. In addition, one company reported harassment of employees by local competitors. Prosecution and punishment for corruption is rare.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency responsible for combating corruption is listed below:

Fatouma Mahamoud AbdillahiPresidentCommission Nationale Independante pour la Prevention et de Lutte Contre la CorruptionPlateau du Serpent+253 21 35 16 03 anticorruption@intnet.d j

No “watchdog” organizations are present in Djibouti.

Dominica

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  The government encourages philanthropy but does not have regulations in place to mandate such activities by private companies.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; however, government implementation and enforcement of the law is inconsistent.   Members of the political opposition and civil society representatives allege that officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Local media and opposition leadership continued to raise allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program.  Dominica acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2010.  The country is party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.

The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 and the Integrity in Public Office (Amendment) Act 2015 require government officials to account annually for their income, assets, and gifts.  All offenses under the act, including the late filing of declarations, are criminalized.  The Integrity Commission was established to monitor the functions under this Act.  The Integrity Commission’s mandate and decisions can be found at  http://www.integritycommission.gov.dm .  Generally, the Integrity Commission reports on late submissions and on inappropriately completed forms but does not share financial disclosures of officials with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Integrity Commission has not updated documents on its website since 2016.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting corruption offenses, but it lacks adequate personnel and resources to handle complicated money laundering and public corruption cases.

Dominica

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector is involved in projects that benefit society, including support of environmental, social, and cultural causes.  The government encourages philanthropy but does not have regulations in place to mandate such activities by private companies.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials; however, government implementation and enforcement of the law is inconsistent.   Members of the political opposition and civil society representatives allege that officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Local media and opposition leadership continued to raise allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program.  Dominica acceded to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in 2010.  The country is party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption.

The Integrity in Public Office Act, 2003 and the Integrity in Public Office (Amendment) Act 2015 require government officials to account annually for their income, assets, and gifts.  All offenses under the act, including the late filing of declarations, are criminalized.  The Integrity Commission was established to monitor the functions under this Act.  The Integrity Commission’s mandate and decisions can be found at  http://www.integritycommission.gov.dm .  Generally, the Integrity Commission reports on late submissions and on inappropriately completed forms but does not share financial disclosures of officials with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Integrity Commission has not updated documents on its website since 2016.

The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for prosecuting corruption offenses, but it lacks adequate personnel and resources to handle complicated money laundering and public corruption cases.

Dominican Republic

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The government does not have an official position or policy on responsible business conduct, including corporate social responsibility (CSR). Although there is not a local culture of CSR, large foreign companies normally have active CSR programs, as do some of the larger local business groups. While most local firms do not follow OECD principles regarding CSR, the firms that do are viewed favorably, especially when their CSR programs are effectively publicized. There is a growing trend for businesses to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and small and medium enterprises are beginning to follow examples of the CSR work of the larger local business groups of being more responsible to societal and environmental issues. These entities are viewing CSR as a competitive advantage. The CSR Risk Checker  is a tool designed to help companies understand some of the CSR risks associated with countries from which they may import or in which they may have production facilities. The report lists a total of 19 possible risks for the Dominican Republic, of which 11 are related to labor rights, three to human rights and ethics, three to environment, and two to fair business practices.

The Dominican Constitution does guarantee consumer rights stating, “Everyone has the right to have quality goods and services, to objective, truthful and timely information about the content and characteristics of the products and services that they use and consume.” To that end, the national consumer protection agency, ProConsumidor, offers consumer advocacy services.

The Dominican Republic also joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2016 ( https://eiti.org/dominican-republic)  and is rated as achieving meaningful progress in its efforts to incorporate EITI standards into its regulatory framework. Its fourth country report, covering 2019 and 2020, was recently approved and can be found at https://eiti.org/document/dominican-republic-20192020-eiti-report.  The Ministry of Energy and Mines, as the government entity in charge of sectoral policy, is carrying out reform processes in the area of mining and hydrocarbons, including modernizing, organizing, and streamlining its own role. Other reforms include 1) modification and modernizing of the Mining Law of 1971, which was submitted to the Presidency for review in February 2021; 2) public consultation and revision of the regulation that will govern creation and management of the 5% of the net benefits generated by the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources that accrue to the state, established in article 117 of Law No. 64-00 of Environment and Natural Resources, and 3) drafting the regulation governing Artisanal Mining.

In May 2018, the Ministry of Energy and Mines presented the Shared Production Model Contract that regulates hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation activities in the Dominican Republic, there are separate version of the contract for on and offshore explorations. These contract models are used in the awarding of oil and gas blocks in the country, which began in November 2019. The government is exploring another licensing round, but dates have not been released. After being signed, contracts must be approved by the National Congress and promulgated by the President.

On December 15, 2003, through Decree No. 1128-03, the government established the Superintendency of Surveillance and Private Security (SVSP) to exercises control, inspection, and surveillance, over all persons and institutions that carry out surveillance and private security activities and their users, in the Dominican Republic. Despite the sizeable sector, there do not appear to be any government, civil society, or private firms in the Dominican Republic affiliated with the International Code of Conduct Association (ICoCA) and the government is not a signatory of the Montreaux Document.

According to the 2020 List of Goods Produced with Child and Forced Labor, there are indicators of child labor in the production of baked goods, coffee, rice, and tomatoes in the Dominican Republic and indicators of child and forced labor in the production of sugarcane. Stakeholders have raised serious inquiries regarding inhumane labor conditions in the Dominican Republic’s sugar sector for many years. In December 2011, Father Christopher Hartley filed a submission under the labor chapter of DR-CAFTA alleging numerous labor violations across the Dominican Republic’s sugar production industry. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) conducted an investigation and found “evidence of apparent and potential labor violations in the sector,” including concerns regarding acceptable conditions of work, child labor, and forced labor. Since issuing its report in 2013, DOL has engaged directly with the Government of the Dominican Republic (GODR), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and Dominican Republic industry stakeholders; provided technical assistance and related program funding; and conducted six public periodic reviews. The most recent review in 2018 found that “while concerns remain, the GODR continues to take positive steps towards addressing some of the labor issues identified in the report.” Another DOL periodic review is expected to be released in 2022.

At the same time, recent findings by investigative journalists assert that, despite ten years of effort, labor conditions in the Dominican Republic’s sugar sector remain abhorrent. Reports from the Washington Post, Mother Jones, and the Center for Investigative Reporting focusing on conditions at the Central Romana Corporation (owner of the world-famous Casa de Campo resort), include written and video testimonies by laborers about the conditions they experience in the bateys, colonos, sugar cane fields, and throughout the country’s sugar production. These testimonies describe poverty-level wages and crippling debt, excessive work hours, inadequate safety or protective equipment, abhorrent housing conditions with limited access to water and electricity, denial of public benefits such as pensions, social security, and medical care, and harassment, intimidation, and retaliation by supervisors, company representatives, company armed guards, and police.

9. Corruption

The Dominican Republic has a legal framework that includes laws and regulations to combat corruption and provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials. While challenges remain, overall enforcement of these laws has improved thanks to a heightened focus on transparency by the Abinader administration and concerted efforts by the Office of the Attorney General. In a change from prior years, investigations targeted well-connected individuals and high-level politicians, both from prior administrations and the current one. The Dominican Republic’s rank on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index rose to 128 in 2021 from 137 in 2020 (out of 180 countries assessed).

Nonetheless, U.S. companies continued to identify corruption as a barrier to FDI. Firms often complained about a lack of technical proficiency in government ministries that resulted in public tender opportunities that were not competently drafted or executed in accordance with international best practices. Some firms went so far as to suggest that more problematic tenders had been set up intentionally to favor politically connected firms. The business community has also complained about corruption at the municipal level and its relevance to such things as permitting procedures. U.S. businesses operating in the Dominican Republic often need to take extensive measures to ensure compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

President Abinader has generally made good on his commitment to make fighting corruption a top priority of his administration. He appointed officials with reputations for professionalism and independence and went to great efforts to respect the independence of his appointed head of the Public Procurement General Directorate, the Chamber of Accounts (the country’s Supreme Audit Institution), and the Attorney General’s Office. In addition, the Abinader administration has publicly committed to prioritizing passage of institutional reforms that will advance the fight against corruption, such as new public procurement legislation, and a bill that would allow for civil asset forfeiture. Passage of this legislation, however, remains in question as the measures are in various levels of administrative and legislative review.

In a notable change from prior administrations, investigations into corruption and arrests have targeted senior officials not just from the opposing parties, but also from the ruling coalition. These moves have sent a powerful signal that the Abinader administration no longer tolerates the sort of pervasive corruption that was seen under prior administrations.

Civil society has been a critical voice in anti-corruption campaigns to date. Several non-governmental organizations are particularly active in transparency and anti-corruption, notably the Foundation for Institutionalization and Justice (FINJUS), Citizen Participation (Participacion Ciudadana), and the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (ADOCCO).

The Dominican Republic signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention. The Dominican Republic is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Ecuador

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Article 66 of the 2008 Constitution guarantees the right to pursue economic activities in a manner that is socially and environmentally responsible. Civil society groups such as the Institute of Corporate Social Responsibility and the Ecuadorian Consortium for Social Responsibility promote responsible business conduct. Many Ecuadorian companies have programs to further responsible business conduct within their organizations. Ecuador joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in October 2020. The country still needs to comply with additional requirements to become a full member. Currently, Ecuador is preparing its Work Plan and is expected to deliver the first country report in April 2022. EITI validation will commence within two and a half years of becoming a candidate (by 5 April 2023).

A number of local and indigenous communities are active in opposing extractive industry projects in their territories, though some communities have welcomed responsible mining companies that are generating employment and bringing benefits to the local people. Ecuador’s Constitutional Court affirmed communities have the right to vote on whether to allow large-scale mining projects near their water sources in a September 2020 ruling on a plebiscite proposed by the Cuenca municipality. The Ecuadorian government is also legally obligated to carry out previous consultation (consulta previa) with indigenous groups and other communities per the Ecuadorian Constitution and its commitments under International Labor Organization Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Ecuador’s Organic Law for Citizen Participation also mandates free, prior, and informed consultations (FPIC) on matters that may impact the environment, culture, and social wellbeing of local people. Ecuador’s 2018 Organic Law for the Integral Planning of the Amazon Region provides for the distribution of extractive industry income for the benefit of local communities affected by the sector’s operations. Still, few financial benefits have trickled down to local communities historically and instead royalties often serve to cover expenses from national and subnational government agencies.

Ecuador has no established protocols for the consultations with indigenous groups and other local communities, leading to political tensions and protests particularly in areas with oil drilling and mining projects. Local and indigenous opposition to mining projects has stalled numerous mining concessions in recent years, including the San Carlos-Panantza Copper Mine and the Rio Blanco Gold Mine. A triumvirate of indigenous groups, including the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), filed a lawsuit October 2021 with the Constitutional Court. They demand the Court nullify President Lasso’s Executive Decree 95 related to the oil sector on the basis that the decree violates the FPIC requirement in the Constitution. Although the Constitutional Court has not ruled on the Executive Decree’s constitutionality, in February 2022 the Court called for stronger protections to guarantee indigenous communities’ rights to decide on extractive projects in their territories. Indigenous people and their organizations are seeking more equitable and transparent processes that empower indigenous nations to attract select extractives in their territories and negotiate fair royalties.

Ecuadorian law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor, including all forms of labor exploitation and child labor. Article 42 of the labor code establishes that all companies engaged in global or domestic supply chains are required by law to pay minimum wage, ensure eight-hour workdays, and pay into social security. The Ministry of Labor’s Directorate for Control and Inspections is responsible for enforcement of labor laws. Ecuador currently has four products included on the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs list of goods that it has reason to believe are produced by child labor or forced labor in violation of international standards, as required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005. These products include bananas, bricks, flowers, and gold. Ministry of Labor (MoL) officials received reports of child labor and conducted inspections but did not furnish specific or aggregated data on the number of inspections or child labor incidences in the production of bananas, bricks, gold, or flowers in 2020 or 2021.

Ecuador’s flower production consortium, in coordination with the International Labor Organization and the MoL, undertook a series of efforts to eliminate child labor from flower farms in 2020. The MoL reported that labor inspections of large flower farms in 2020 in Pichincha province did not find instances of child labor. This positive outcome is largely because these farms are part of the Business Network for a Child-Labor-Free Ecuador and are committed to the elimination of child labor. Despite their progress, flower exporting consortiums continue to resist a diagnostic survey to demonstrate the elimination of child labor.

According to international organizations, adolescents below age 15 engage in dangerous working conditions in the artisanal gold mining near the borders with Colombia and Peru.  Most gold mining is in southern Ecuador near Peru.  Adolescents engaged in hazardous unregulated mining operations faced exposure to mercury and other hazardous chemicals. Government officials admitted difficulty in monitoring for child labor in the unregulated artisanal gold mining sector, particularly in relatively inaccessible border areas. Government and civil society sources did not report child labor in mining for export-oriented firms.

Nationally the government does not mandate local employment. However, the Organic Law of the Amazon, approved by the National Assembly on May 21, 2018, mandates that any company, national or foreign, operating within the area covered by the law (the Amazon Basin) must hire at least 70 percent of their staff locally, unless they cannot find qualified labor from that area. The 2015 Organic Law for the Special Regime of the Galapagos (LOREG) and its regulations enacted in April 2017 include the mandatory hiring of local residents. The law stipulates non-residents can be hired only if companies demonstrate there are no local candidates with the required skill set.

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Corruption is a serious problem in Ecuador, and one that the Lasso administration is confronting. Ecuadorian courts have recently tried numerous cases of corruption, resulting in convictions of high-level officials, including former President Rafael Correa, former Vice President Jorge Glas (although the judiciary recently released him), and former Vice President Maria Alejandra Vicuña, among others. U.S. companies have cited corruption as an obstacle to investment, with concerns related specifically to non-transparent public tenders, dispute resolution, and payment of arbitration awards.

Ecuadorian law provides criminal penalties for corruption by public officials, but the government has not implemented the law effectively, and officials have engaged in corrupt practices. Ecuador ranked 105 out of 180 countries surveyed for Transparency International’s 2021 Perceptions of Corruption Index and received a score of 36 out of 100. High-profile cases of alleged official corruption involving state-owned petroleum company PetroEcuador and Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht illustrate the significant challenges that confront Ecuador with regards to corruption. The Ecuadorian National Assembly approved anti-corruption legislation in December 2020. The legislation, which reforms the Comprehensive Organic Penal Code, creates new criminal acts including circumvention of public procurement procedures, acts of corruption in the private sector, and obstruction of justice. It also includes 11 provisions reforming the laws governing the public procurement system and the Comptroller General’s Office.

Illicit payments for official favors and theft of public funds reportedly take place frequently. Dispute settlement procedures are complicated by the lack of transparency and inefficiency in the judicial system. Offering or accepting a bribe is illegal and punishable by imprisonment for up to five years. The Comptroller General is responsible for the oversight of public funds, and there are frequent investigations and occasional prosecutions for irregularities.

Ecuador ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in September 2005. Ecuador is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. The 2008 Constitution created the Citizen Participation and Social Control Council (CPCCS), tasked with preventing and combating corruption, among other responsibilities. The 2018 national referendum converted the CPCCS from an appointed to a popularly elected body. In December 2008, President Correa issued a decree that created the National Secretariat for Transparency (SNTG) to investigate and denounce acts of corruption in the public sector. The SNTG became an undersecretariat and was merged with the National Secretariat of Public Administration June 2013. President Moreno established the Anticorruption Secretariat within the Presidency in February 2019 but disbanded it in May 2020 for allegedly intervening in corruption investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General. The CPCCS can receive complaints and conduct investigations into alleged acts of corruption. Responsibility for prosecution remains with the Office of the Attorney General.

Egypt

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) programs have grown in popularity in Egypt over the last ten years.  Most programs are limited to multinational and larger domestic companies as well as the banking sector and take the form of funding and sponsorship for initiatives supporting entrepreneurship and education and other social activities.  Environmental and technology programs are also garnering greater participation.  The Ministry of Trade has engaged constructively with corporations promoting RBC programs, supporting corporate social responsibility conferences and providing Cabinet-level representation as a sign of support to businesses promoting RBC programming.

A number of organizations and corporations work to foster the development of RBC in Egypt.  The American Chamber of Commerce has an active corporate social responsibility committee.  Several U.S. pharmaceutical companies are actively engaged in RBC programs related to Egypt’s hepatitis-C epidemic.  The Egyptian Corporate Responsibility Center, which is the UN Global Compact local network focal point in Egypt, aims to empower businesses to develop sustainable business models as well as improve the national capacity to design, apply, and monitor sustainable responsible business conduct policies.  In March 2010, Egypt launched an environmental, social, and governance index, the second of its kind in the world after India’s, with training and technical assistance from Standard and Poor’s.  Egypt does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  Public information about Egypt’s extractive industries remains limited to the government’s annual budget.

9. Corruption

Egypt has a set of laws to combat corruption by public officials, including an Anti-Bribery Law (articles 103 through 111 of Egypt’s Penal Code), an Illicit Gains Law (Law 62 of 1975 and subsequent amendments in Law 97 of 2015), and a Governmental Accounting Law (Law 27 of 1981), among others.  Countering corruption remains a long-term focus. However, corruption laws have not been consistently enforced.  Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Egypt 117 out of 180 countries in its 2021 survey.  Past surveys from Transparency International reported that nearly half of Egyptians said they had paid a bribe to obtain a public service.

Some private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials. There is no government requirement for private companies to establish internal codes of conduct to prohibit bribery.

Egypt ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2005.  It has not acceded to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery or any other regional anti-corruption conventions.

While NGOs are active in encouraging anti-corruption activities, dialogue between the government and civil society on this issue is almost non-existent. In a 2009 study demonstrating a trend that continues to this day, the OECD found that while government officials publicly asserted they shared civil society organizations’ goals, they rarely cooperated with NGOs, and applied relevant laws in a highly restrictive manner against NGOs critical of government practices.  Media was also limited in its ability to report on corruption, with Article 188 of the Penal Code mandating heavy fines and penalties for unsubstantiated corruption allegations.

U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI in Egypt. Companies might encounter corruption in the public sector in the form of requests for bribes, using bribes to facilitate required government approvals or licenses, embezzlement, and tampering with official documents.  Corruption and bribery are reported in dealing with public services, customs (import license and import duties), public utilities (water and electrical connection), construction permits, and procurement, as well as in the private sector.  Businesses have described a dual system of payment for services, with one formal payment and a secondary, unofficial payment required for services to be rendered.

El Salvador

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The private sector in El Salvador, including several prominent U.S. companies, has embraced the concept of responsible business conduct (RBC). Many companies donated to COVID-19 relief efforts in 2020. Several local foundations promote RBC practices, entrepreneurial values, and philanthropic initiatives. El Salvador is also a member of international institutions such as Forum Empresa (an alliance of RBC institutions in the Western Hemisphere), AccountAbility (UK), and the InterAmerican Corporate Social Responsibility Network. Businesses have created RBC programs to provide education and training, transportation, lunch programs, and childcare. In addition, RBC programs have included inclusive hiring practices and assistance to communities in areas such as health, education, senior housing, and HIV/AIDS awareness. Organizations monitoring RBC are able to work freely.

Following a reorganization under the Bukele administration, the Legal Secretariat is responsible for developing strategies and actions to promote transparency and accountability of government agencies, as well as fostering citizen participation in government. The watchdog organization Transparency International is represented in-country by the Salvadoran Foundation for Development (FUNDE).

El Salvador does not waive or weaken labor laws, consumer protection, or environmental regulations to attract foreign investment. El Salvador’s ability to enforce domestic laws effectively and fairly is limited by a lack of resources. El Salvador does not allow metal mining activity.

9. Corruption

U.S. companies operating in El Salvador are subject to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Corruption can be a challenge to investment in El Salvador. El Salvador ranks 115 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index. While El Salvador has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, their effectiveness is at times questionable. Soliciting, offering, or accepting a bribe is a criminal act in El Salvador. The Attorney General’s Anticorruption and Anti-Impunity Unit handles allegations of public corruption. The Constitution establishes a Court of Accounts that is charged with investigating public officials and entities and, when necessary, passing such cases to the Attorney General for prosecution. Executive-branch employees are subject to a code of ethics, including administrative enforcement mechanisms, and the government established an Ethics Tribunal in 2006.

In June 2021, El Salvador terminated its 2019 agreement with the organization of American States (OAS) to back the International Commission Against Impunity and Corruption (CICIES). CICIES audited pandemic spending in 2020. After receiving CICIES preliminary findings in November 2021, the Attorney General’s Office began criminal investigations in 17 government agencies for alleged procurement fraud and misuse of public funds. In May 2021, the Legislative Assembly passed the “Law for the Use of Products for Medical Treatments in Exceptional Public Health Situations Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic” to protect vaccine manufacturers from liability, a precondition for Pfizer to sell vaccines to El Salvador. However, the law’s broad liability shield provisions, including civil and criminal immunity for a wide range of medical product manufacturers and healthcare providers, raised concerns about the future of investigations into fraudulent purchases of medical supplies and PPE. The law was subsequently amended in October 2021 to clarify there is no immunity for acts of corruption, fraud, bribery, theft, counterfeiting or piracy and trafficking of stolen goods. Even though the reforms removed some of the most controversial aspects of the bill, investigations stalled after the Attorney General appointed by the Bukele Administration removed prosecutors working on pandemic-related probe against GOES officials.

Corruption scandals at the federal, legislative, and municipal levels are commonplace and there have been credible allegations of judicial corruption. Three of the past four presidents have been indicted for corruption, a former Attorney General is in prison on corruption-related charges, and a former president of the Legislative Assembly, who also served as president of the investment promotion agency during the prior administration, faces charges for embezzlement, fraud, and money laundering. The former Minister of Defense during two FMLN governments is being prosecuted for providing illicit benefits to gangs in exchange for reducing homicides (an agreement known as the 2012-2014 Truce). In February 2020, the Attorney General’s Office indicted high-ranking members of the ARENA and FMLN parties under charges of conspiracy and electoral fraud for negotiating with gangs for political benefit during the run up to the 2014 presidential elections. In September 2020, the Attorney General’s Office launched a probe against the Director of Penal Centers, the Vice Minister of Justice, and the Chief of the Social Fabric Reconstruction Unit for covert dealings with gangs on a homicide reduction in exchange for better prison conditions. Since the appointment of the current Attorney General, the investigation into Bukele administration’s gang pacts has not progressed. U.S Treasury designated the two officials and Bukele’s Chief of Cabinet for financial sanctions in December 2021. The law provides criminal penalties for corruption, but implementation is generally perceived as ineffective. Former President Funes faces criminal charges for embezzlement, money laundering, and misappropriation of public funds. Although there are several pending arrest warrants against Funes, he has fled to Nicaragua and cannot be extradited because he was granted Nicaraguan citizenship. In 2018, former president Elias Antonio (Tony) Saca pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $300 million in public funds. The court sentenced him to 10 years in prison and ordered him to repay $260 million.

The NGO Social Initiative for Democracy stated that officials, particularly in the judicial system, often engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Long-standing government practices in El Salvador, including cash payments to officials, shielded budgetary accounts, and diversion of government funds, facilitate corruption and impede accountability.  For example, the accepted practice of ensuring party loyalty through off-the-books cash payments to public officials (i.e., sobresueldos) persisted across five presidential administrations. President Bukele eliminated these cash payments to public officials and the “reserved spending account,” nominally for state intelligence funding. At his direction, in July 2019, the Court of Accounts began auditing reserve spending of the Sanchez Ceren administration. In July 2021, the Attorney General’s Office accused ten former FMLN legislators and former cabinet members who served in the Funes administration (2009-2014), including former President Salvador Sanchez, of money laundering, embezzlement, and illicit enrichment for allegedly receiving sobresueldos from the President’s Office reserved spending account.

El Salvador has an active, free press that reports on corruption. The Illicit Enrichment Law requires appointed and elected officials to declare their assets to the Probity Section. The declarations are not available to the public, and the law only sanctions noncompliance with fines of up to $500. In 2015, the Probity Section of the Supreme Court began investigating allegations of illicit enrichment of public officials. In 2017, Supreme Court Justices ordered its Probity Section to audit legislators and their alternates. In 2019, in observance of the Constitution, the Supreme Court instructed the Probity Section to focus its investigations only on public officials who left office within ten years. In 2020, the Supreme Court issued regulations to standardize the procedures to examine asset declarations of public officials and carry out illicit enrichment investigations, as well as to set clear rules for decision-making. At the end of 2021, the Probity Section had a total of 452 active investigations on illicit enrichment. Between 2015 and 2021, the office completed economic examinations in 58 cases, but the Supreme of Court recommended civil prosecution for illicit enrichment in only 21 of those cases. In an October 2021 interview, the President of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court indicated that 127 illicit enrichment cases were nearing the end of the 10-year constitutional statute of limitations.

In 2011, El Salvador approved the Law on Access to Public Information. The law provides for the right of access to government information, but authorities have not always effectively implemented the law. The law gives a narrow list of exceptions that outline the grounds for nondisclosure and provide for a reasonably short timeline for the relevant authority to respond, no processing fees, and administrative sanctions for non-compliance. The Bukele administration has weakened the autonomy of the Access to Public Information Agency (IAIP) – charged with ensuring compliance with the law – by reforming IAIP’s regulations to increase the President’s Office control over the appointment of its commissioners. Enacted amendments also add requirements for accessing information, including for the release of restricted information. Civil society organizations claim it is common practice of the Bukele administration to declare information to be reserved (confidential) or deny information without justification and in violation of the law to avoid citizen oversight and accountability.

In 2011, El Salvador joined the Open Government Partnership. The Open Government Partnership promotes government commitments made jointly with civil society on transparency, accountability, citizen participation and use of new technologies ( http://www.opengovpartnership.org/country/el-salvador ).

Equatorial Guinea

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The government does not have a clearly defined vision on responsible business conduct (RBC) for companies operating in the country. Rather, it encourages such practices through individual decrees and enforcement of laws and policies. The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, for example, mandates that international oil companies invest a percentage of their proceeds in local corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. Under the local content rules added to the Hydrocarbon Law in 2014, a significant portion of these funds are used to support the National Technological Institute of Mines and Hydrocarbons, which trains local nationals to work in the extractive sector. Some funds are invested in environmental projects through local and U.S.-based NGOs, while others support social projects like a human trafficking awareness campaign. All CSR projects must be approved by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, and the Ministry receives branding and credit for all CSR initiatives even it doesn’t contribute any funding. The Ministry oversees the entire CSR process through its Department of Local Content, including selecting the project, local implementing partner(s), and location(s).

While there are significant human rights concerns in Equatorial Guinea, including arbitrary detentions and restrictions on free speech and assembly, in general these are not directly related to the investment sector. There are no alleged instances of child labor in supply chains, major land tenure issues, forced evictions of indigenous peoples, or arrests of environmental defenders. There are some cases of alleged forced labor of third country nationals working for foreign companies and foreign state-owned enterprises, which are covered in more detail in the Department of State’s Trafficking in Humans Report linked below.

As a result of Equatorial Guinea’s underdeveloped and under-resourced judicial system, laws designed to protect human rights, workers, the environment, and consumers are not always effectively enforced. The absence of labor unions and weak civil society organizations result in little third-party oversight of or advocacy for improved government actions related to RBC. A high-profile case in early 2022 resulted in the arrest of six individuals accused of putting consumers at risk by falsifying the expiration dates on products at a prominent supermarket. In 2021, national police arrested multiple individuals for falsifying official signatures and documents to engage in illegal logging.

Equatorial Guinea applied to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2010, but its application was delisted after the government missed the validation deadline. To comply with IMF recommendations, it reapplied in 2019, but it once again had to withdraw its application in 2020 for failure to meet all requirements. The government has been unable to identify a civil society organization to serve as part of an effective multi-stakeholder oversight mechanism, a key component of admission into the EITI. In late 2021, the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons stated that the government would be resubmitting its application in early 2022, but as of April, no progress toward reapplying had been made public.

Equatorial Guinea is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor does it participate directly in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA), although several companies in the country are members.

9. Corruption

Corruption at all levels of government remains a serious issue, although the government has taken some steps to combat it. The government ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in May 2018 and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in October 2019. In July 2020, the President issued Decree-Law No. 1/2020 on the Prevention and Fight against Corruption to bring its existing anti-corruption laws up to international standards in compliance with requirements from the IMF. The decree requires public officials to disclose all assets and sources of income, sets new rules to prevent conflicts of interests, prohibits officials from receiving most types of gifts, establishes a National Commission on the Prevention and Fight Against Corruption, and establishes punishments for corruption offenses, as well as protections for whistleblowers.

As with the investment regulatory regime, however, anti-corruption enforcement remains weak. Some anti-corruption agencies, such as a Court of Accounts and a Commission on Ethics, have been created by law but have yet to be operationalized. Other offices, such as those of the anti-corruption prosecutor and the ombudsman, have been launched but remain weak and under-resourced. While some high-profile corruption cases against low- and mid-level officials were prosecuted in 2021, a culture of impunity remains among higher level leaders. Despite public disclosure of assets being included in both the anti-corruption law and the amended 2012 constitution, many public officials have yet to comply. Many high-level officials continue to have ownership of private sector businesses with no oversight of conflict of interest, contract negotiations, or anti-nepotism mechanisms.

Law No. 2/2014 on Civil Servants of the State sets forth responsibilities and prohibited actions of public workers, and some autonomous entities and SOEs have established their own codes of conduct. In 2019, the government called for the establishment of a Commission on Ethics to facilitate reporting by public officials of acts of corruption, but it is not yet operational.

Through harassment and intimidation, the government prevents civil society organizations from advocating on any issues that it considers to be political, and it does not offer protection for entities investigating corruption. NGOs of all kinds, but especially those engaging on issues of human rights and good governance, have difficulty obtaining legal registration through the Ministry of Interior and Local Corporations, some waiting for years without an official answer despite multiple attempts.

Corruption is reportedly present in many stages of the business cycle, including during procurement and awarding of licenses, as well as in regulatory enforcement and dispute settlement

Eritrea

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Most large enterprises in Eritrea are operated directly or jointly by the GSE or PJDF, and there is no general awareness of the concept of “responsible business conduct” (RBC).  However, on some issues, especially environmental protection, many businesses take great care to act responsibly.  Due to a lack of transparency, it is unknown if the GSE has taken any measures to encourage RBC; if it has, these efforts are not well publicized.

According to numerous reports from international NGOs (operating outside of Eritrea), the United Nations, and the U.S. Government, the GSE does not fairly and effectively enforce its domestic laws in relation to human rights, including labor rights. Any products created by state-owned or parastatal organizations is likely to involve forced labor through the government’s national service system. However, Eritrea has rather stringent safeguards for environmental protections.

There are no public capital markets inside of Eritrea and only a small number of publicly traded companies operate inside of Eritrea. Due to lack of transparency, it is impossible to determine if the GSE has established any standard of corporate governance, accounting and executive compensation to protect shareholders.

There are no independent NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations, unions or business associations in Eritrea.

Due to lack of transparency, it is impossible to determine if the GSE encourages adherence to OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Individual mining companies participate in programs such as the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, but this participation is not mandated by the GSE.

9. Corruption

Eritrean laws criminalize corruption by public officials and by any who claim influence over public officials, which would include family members and political parties.  Due to limited transparency within the government, it is unclear the extent to which the GSE applies these laws, though evidence suggests little corruption among high-level government officials but significant petty corruption at the local level.

There are no specific provisions concerning conflicts of interest.

There is no available information to suggest that the GSE requires private companies to establish internal codes that prohibit bribery of public officials, and it is unlikely that the government does so.  It is likely that some, but not all, of the large foreign private companies use internal controls, ethics or compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery.

Eritrea is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption or any other international anti-corruption initiatives.  There are no independent NGOs in Eritrea, including those that investigate corruption.  There are no U.S. firms in Eritrea to provide an opinion on corruption as an impediment to FDI, but it is unlikely to be a serious impediment.

Estonia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The majority of OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are incorporated into Estonian legislation. The non-profit organization, Responsible Business Forum in Estonia, aims to further corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Estonia, and is a partner in the CSR360 Global Partner Network. CSR360 ) is a network of independent organizations, which work as the interface of business and society to mobilize business towards socially responsible aims.

The Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications works closely with CSR on educating private businesses and SOEs on responsible business conduct, recognizing best practices, and factoring RBC policies or practices into its procurement decisions.

Estonia generally enforces the labor, human rights, employment rights, consumer protection, and environmental protection related laws effectively and these requirements cannot be waived to attract foreign investment. These laws apply also to the private security industry. Estonia has adhered to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises since 2001. The National Contact Point can be accessed here:

https://www.mkm.ee/en/objectives-activities/economic-development/oecd-guidelines-and-surveillance%20 

Natural resource extraction related revenues, including mining licenses, are less than 0.6 percent of government budget revenues and less than 0.3 percent of the GDP. The revenues are reflected in the national budget.

Here you can find a summary of the strength of minority shareholder protections against misuse of corporate assets by directors for their personal gain: http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/estonia/protecting-minority-investors/ 

9. Corruption

Estonia has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption, and while corruption is not unknown, it has generally not been reported to pose a major problem for foreign investors. Both offering and taking bribes are criminal offenses which can bring imprisonment of up to five years. While “payments” that exceed the services rendered are not unknown, and “conflict of interest” is not a well-understood issue, surveys of American and other non-Estonian businesses have shown the issue of corruption is not a serious concern.

In 2021, Transparency International (TI) ranked Estonia 13th out of 180 countries on its Corruption Perceptions Index.

Anti-corruption policy and implementation are coordinated by the Ministry of Justice and the strategy is implemented by all ministries and local governments. The Internal Security Service is effective in investigating corruption offences and criminal misconduct, leading to the conviction of several high-ranking state officials. Until recently corruption was most commonly associated with public sector activities. Recently the government-initiated efforts to educate private sector businesses about the risks of business-to-business corruption, for example within procurement activities.

Estonia cooperates in fighting corruption at the international level and is a member of GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption). Estonia is a party to both the Council of Europe (CoE) Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Civil Law Convention. The Criminal Law Convention requires criminalization of a wide range of national and transnational conduct, including bribery, money-laundering, and accounting offenses. It also incorporates provisions on liability of legal persons and witness protection. The Civil Law Convention includes provisions on compensation for damage relating to corrupt acts, whistleblower protection, and validity of contracts, inter alia.

More info on the corruption level in different sectors in Estonia can be found at: Estonia – Transparency.org 

Eswatini

Ethiopia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Some larger international companies in Ethiopia have introduced corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. Most Ethiopian companies, however, do not officially practice CSR, though individual entrepreneurs engage in charity, sometimes on a large scale. There are efforts to develop CSR programs by MOTRI in collaboration with the World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development, and other institutions.

The government encourages CSR programs for both local and foreign direct investors but does not maintain specific guidelines for these programs, which are inconsistently applied and not controlled or monitored. The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce also has a corporate governance institute, which promotes responsible business conduct among private business enterprises.

The GOE does not publish data on the number of children who are victims of forced labor. The Ethiopian Central Statistics Agency’s 2015 National Child Labor Survey and 2021 Labor Force and Migration Survey did not assess forced labor.

On January 1, 2022, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) announced that due to human rights concerns related to the conflict in northern Ethiopia, Ethiopia no longer met the eligibility criteria for African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preferences. Ethiopia will continue to undergo AGOA’s annual review process and may regain eligibility once it meets the criteria.

The 2020 Investment Law requires all investors to give due regard to social and environmental sustainability values including environmental protection standards and social inclusion objectives. The 2002 Environmental Impact Assessment Proclamation number 299/2002 mandates any government agency issuing business licenses or permits for investment projects ensure that federal or relevant regional environmental agencies authorize the project’s implementation. In practice, environmental laws and regulations are not fully enforced due to limited capacity at government regulatory bodies.

In 2014, the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) admitted Ethiopia as a candidate-member. In 2019, EITI found Ethiopia made meaningful progress in implementing EITI standards. The Commercial Code requires extractive industries and other businesses to conduct statuary audits of their financial statements at the end of each financial year.

9. Corruption

The Federal Ethics and Anticorruption Proclamation number 1236/2020 aims to combat corruption involving government officials and organizations, religious organizations, political parties, and international organizations. The Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (FEACC) is accountable to parliament and charged with preventing corruption among government officials by providing ethics training and education. MOJ is responsible for investigating corruption crimes and prosecutions. The Office of the Ombudsman is responsible for ensuring good governance and preventing administrative abuses by public offices.

Transparency International’s 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption, rated Ethiopia’s corruption at 39 (the score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of zero to 100, with the former indicating highly corrupt and the latter indicating very clean). Its comparative rank in 2021 was 87 out of 180 countries, a seven-point improvement from its 2020 rank. In 2020 the American Chamber of Commerce in Ethiopia polled its members and asked what the leading business climate challenges were; transparency and governance ranked as the 4th leading business climate challenge, ahead of licensing and registration, and public procurement.

Ethiopian and foreign businesses routinely encounter corruption in tax collection, customs clearance, and land administration. Many past procurement deals for major government contracts, especially in the power generation, telecommunications, and construction sectors, were widely viewed as corrupt. Allegations of corruption in the allocation of urban land to private investors by government agencies are a major source of popular discontent in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Ethiopia is a signatory to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. Ethiopia is also member of the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities. Ethiopia signed the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2003, which was eventually ratified in November 2007. It is a criminal offense to give or receive bribes, and bribes are not tax deductible.

Fiji

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is increasingly promoted, and the government has included legal provisions to protect the environment, consumers, human rights, and labor rights, although its monitoring and enforcement of RBC is mixed. The media, civil society organizations, and labor unions play active roles in promoting RBC. In 2019, a foreign-owned tourism development project was cancelled after the media highlighted extensive environmental degradation by the project developers.

9. Corruption

The legal code provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but corruption cases often proceeded slowly. In 2021, parliament enacted the “high court amendment” law that created a specialized court to enable specific judges and magistrates to preside over and speedily resolve anticorruption cases.

The government established the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), which has broad powers of investigation. FICAC’s public service announcements encouraging citizens to report corrupt government activities have had some effect on systemic corruption. The government adequately funded FICAC, but some observers questioned its independence and viewed some of its high-profile prosecutions as politically motivated. The media publishes articles on FICAC investigations into abuse of office, and anonymous blogs report on government corruption. FICAC in collaboration with the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-corruption agency (UN-PRAC) launched a nationwide anti-bribery campaign. However, Fiji’s relatively small population and limited circles of power often lead to personal relationships playing a major role in business and government decisions. Fiji acceded to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2008.

Finland

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Government promotes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) through the Ministry of Employment and the Economy CSR Guidelines ( https://tem.fi/en/key-guidelines-on-csr ). The Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility acts as the Finnish National Contact Point (NCP) for the effective implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs), together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment: https://tem.fi/en/handling-specific-instances-of-the-oecd-guidelines-for-multinational-enterprises .

The government’s SOE policy establishes CSR as a core value of SOEs. Finnish companies perceive that the central component of responsible business conduct or corporate responsibility is to conduct due diligence to ensure compliance with law and regulations. There are no national codes for CSR in Finland; rather, Finnish companies and public authorities have promoted global CSR codes, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; the UN Global Compact for Business and Human Rights; ILO principles; EMAS; ISO standards; and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). As the EU-level CSR legislation is being drafted, a proposal for an EU Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence was released in March 2022, Finland is preparing to draft national CSR legislation based on the Government Program.

The Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the disclosure of non-financial information has been implemented via amendments to the Finnish Accounting Act, requiring affected organizations to report on their CSR. The obligation to report non-financial information and corporate responsibility reports apply to large public interest entities i.e. listed companies, credit institutions and insurance companies with more than 500 employees. In addition, turnover must be greater than USD 45.4 million or balance sheet exceed more than USD 22.7 million.

Importing tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold from conflict zones into the EU requires new procedures from businesses as of January 2021. The Act on the placing on the market of conflict minerals and their ores, which entered into force on January 1, 2021, improves the transparency of supply chains, and brings Finland’s conflict minerals regime into line with EU regulations.

Tukes, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency, is the competent authority in Finland and Customs is given tasks related to the implementation of the Act. For more information: https://tukes.fi/en/industry/conflict-minerals .

Finland is committed to the implementation of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy by the ILO.

Finland has joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which supports improved governance in resource-rich countries. Finland is not a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative.

Finland is a supporter of the Montreux Document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for states related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict, but the Finnish government is not a member of ICoCA, the international Code of Conduct for Private Security Service providers’ Association.

The Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment (TEM) has appointed a working group to support preparations on due diligence, in addition to review a judicial analysis on a CSR Act. The Committee’s term is January 2021 to December 2023.

Labor and environmental laws and regulations are not waived to attract or retain investments and the Government published a guide to socially responsible public procurement in November 2017: http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/160318 .

The Corporate Responsibility Network (FiBS) is the largest corporate responsibility network in the Nordic countries and has more than 300 members: https://www.fibsry.fi/briefly-in-english/ . The Human Rights Center (HRC), administratively linked to the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman, encourages foreign and local enterprises to follow the most important international norms: https://www.humanrightscentre.fi/monitoring/.

The MVO Nederland CSR Risk Checker identified two country risks for Finland: Labor rights (labor conditions/contracts and working hours) and Environment (soil and ground water contamination). More info here: https://www.mvorisicochecker.nl/en/worldmap

The Securities Market Association, https://cgfinland.fi/en/, developed and updated (2020) the Finnish Corporate Governance Code for companies listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange: https://cgfinland.fi/en/corporate-governance-code/ and https://business.nasdaq.com/list/Rules-and-Regulations/European-rules/nasdaq-helsinki/index.html .

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Finland is strongly committed to the EU’s joint reduction target under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement and is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral welfare society by 2035. Finland is updating the Climate Change Act to develop more stringent targets for emissions by 2030. Finland’s Annual Climate Report 2021 suggests that while emissions declined in 2020, achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 will require additional action.

The national targets set in the Finnish Government Plan (2019) are more stringent than EU-imposed obligations. Under current legislation, Finland’s national target is to achieve a minimum reduction of 80 percent in emissions by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. PM Marin’s government has set a goal to achieve carbon neutral status by 2035 and carbon negative status shortly thereafter.

Finland was the first country in the world to set a carbon tax in 1990, and Finnish power plants and industries have participated in the EU Emissions Trading System since 2005. Finland supports the development of carbon markets also around the world and promote the gradual phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies.

In 2020, the Finnish Government announced plans to form a Climate Fund focusing on combating climate change, boosting low-carbon industry and promoting digitalization. Approximately 65 percent of the Climate Fund’s investments relate to climate change and about 35 percent to climate-related digitalization. Depending on the funding category and target, the funding by the Climate Fund can vary between 1 and 20 million euros.

Finland ranks first on the 2021 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF’s) Global Energy Innovation Index (GEII). The GEII reveals varied contributions nations make to the global innovation system. Finland, a top contributor overall to the global energy innovation system, ranks first for entrepreneurial experimentation and market formation, a ranking it also held in 2016. Finland’s top score is in market readiness and technology adoption, which assesses a nation’s demand-pull on clean energy innovation through its energy efficiency and clean energy consumption.

On MIT’s Green Future Index, Finland ranked sixth among 76 leading countries and territories. The index measures progress and commitment towards building low carbon future. According to the index, Finland fosters an extensive green tech R&D ecosystem, with leading-edge renewables (such as green hydrogen) and food tech.

Finland ranked sixth on the 2020 Green Growth Index, measuring performance in meeting Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets.

Ecological sustainability is one of Finland’s main goals and Finland also aims to be a forerunner of ecological public procurement. Finland’s first National Public Procurement Strategy, launched September 2020, focuses on developing strategic management and promoting procurement expertise. To support the achievement of ecological, social and economic goals in society through public procurement it is important to develop a strong culture of knowledge-based management. For more see: https://vm.fi/en/-/national-public-procurement-strategy-identifies-concrete-ways-in-which-public-procurement-can-help-achieve-wider-goals-in-society

9. Corruption

In April 2021, the Finnish Government adopted a government resolution on Finland’s national risk assessment and action plan on money laundering and terrorist financing. The assessment found that all sectors experience challenges in identifying signs of terrorist financing and sectors with the highest risk of money laundering are money remitters (hawala operators) and virtual currency providers.

Finland’s money laundering and terrorist financing national action plan (2021-2023) sets out measures to reduce the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. More information here: https://valtioneuvosto.fi/en/-/10623/highest-risk-sectors-are-money-remittances-and-provision-of-virtual-currencies

The National Risk Assessment of 2018 does not list corruption as a risk in Finland, nor does the 2017 Security Strategy for Society.

Over the past decade, Finland has ranked in the top three on Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In 2021, Finland was ranked first on the CPI, and ranked third in the world on the Democracy Index civil liberties score with an overall score of 9.27. Finland scored 10 in electoral process and pluralism, 9.29 in the functioning of the government, 8.89 in political participation, 8.75 in political culture and 8.41 in civil liberties. Corruption in Finland is covered by the Criminal Code and penalties range from fines to imprisonment of up to four years. The Criminal Code divides bribery offences into two categories, giving of bribes to public officials or acceptance of bribes and giving or acceptance of bribes in business. Finland has statutory tax rules concerning non-deductibility of bribes. Finland does not have an authority specifically charged to prevent corruption, instead several authorities and agencies contribute to anti-corruption work. The Ministry of Justice coordinates anti-corruption matters, but Finland’s EU anti-corruption contact is the Ministry of the Interior. The National Bureau of Investigation also monitors corruption, while the tax administration has guidelines obliging tax officials to report suspected offences, including foreign bribery, and the Ministry of Finance has guidelines on hospitality, benefits, and gifts. The Ministry of Justice describes its anti-corruption efforts at https://oikeusministerio.fi/en/anti-corruption-activities .

In 2020, Ministry of Employment and Economy released an Anti-Corruption guide intended for companies, especially SMEs, to provide them with guidance and support for promoting good business practices and corruption-free business relations both in Finland and abroad. For more see: https://tem.fi/en/-/guide-offers-smes-practical-anti-corruption-tips The Ministry of Justice is maintaining an Anti-Corruption.fi website, https://korruptiontorjunta.fi/en/combating-corruption-in-finland, providing both ordinary citizens and professional operators with impartial and fact-based information on corruption and its prevention in Finland. The goal is a transparent, impartial, and corruption-free culture and society.

The Act on a Candidate’s Election Funding (273/2009) delineates election funding and disclosure rules. The Act requires presidential candidates, Members of Parliament, and Deputy Members to declare total campaign financing, the financial value of each contribution, and donor names for donations exceeding EUR 1,500: https://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/2009/en20090273.pdf . The Act on Political Parties (10/1969) concerning the funding of political parties is at: https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/kaannokset/1969/en19690010.pdf . The National Audit Office of Finland keeps a register containing election-funding disclosures at: http://www.vaalirahoitusvalvonta.fi/en/index.html . Election funding disclosures must be filed with the National Audit Office of Finland within two months of election results being confirmed.

Finland does not regulate lobbying; there is no requirement for lobbyists to register or report contact with public officials. However, in March 2020, a parliamentary working group was set up to establish a transparency lobbying register. In December 2021, the working group report on the Transparency Register was sent out for comments, with the aim of having the government proposal before Parliament in spring 2022. The Finnish Association of Communications Professionals (ProCom) keeps a voluntary lobbyist registry (in Finnish).

The ethical Guidelines of the Finnish Prosecution Service can be found from a new website that was opened on October 1, 2019. https://syyttajalaitos.fi/en/the-ethical-guidelines .

The following are ratified or in force in Finland: the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime; the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption; the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption; the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; and, the UN Anticorruption Convention. Finland is a member of the European Partners against Corruption (EPAC).

Finland is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Anti-Bribery. In October 2020, the OECD working group on bribery said it recognizes Finland’s commitment to combat corruption, but is concerned about lack of foreign bribery enforcement. For more see Finland’s 4th evaluation report: http://www.oecd.org/corruption/Finland-phase-4-follow-up-report-ENG.pdf .

In October 2020, the Council of Europe’s anticorruption body GRECO (Group of States against Corruption) addressed 14 recommendations to Finland on preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and compliance with these recommendations. For more see GRECO’s 5th evaluation round, Finland compliance report: https://rm.coe.int/fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-promoting-integrity-i/1680a0b0ca . The National Bureau of Investigation is responsible for the investigation of organized and international crimes, including economic crime and corruption, and operates an anti-corruption unit to detect economic offences. Finland adopted the first national anti-corruption strategy in May 2021. The Strategy is in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) and the recommendations issued by the UN, the OECD, the Council of Europe and the European Union to Finland to reinforce its anti-corruption work.

At the beginning of 2017, the Public Procurement Act based on the new EU directives on public procurement entered into force. Under the law, a foreign bribery conviction remains mandatory grounds for exclusion from public contracts (section 80: mandatory exclusion criteria).

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

Markku Ranta-Aho
Head of Financial Crime Division
National Board of Investigation
P.O. Box 285, 01310 Vantaa, Finland
markku.ranta-aho@poliisi.fi

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

Mari Laakso
Chairperson
Transparency Finland
Mari.Laakso@transparency.fi

France and Monaco

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The business community has general awareness of standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) in France. The country has established a National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, coordinated and chaired by the Directorate General of the Treasury in the Ministry for the Economy and Finance. Its members represent State Administrations (Ministries in charge of Economy and Finance, Labor and Employment, Foreign Affairs, Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy), six French Trade Unions (CFDT, CGT, FO, CFE-CGC, CFTC, UNSA) and one employers’ organization, MEDEF.

The NCP promotes the OECD Guidelines in a manner that is relevant to specific sectors. When specific instances are raised, the NCP offers its good offices to the parties (discussion, exchange of information) and may act as a mediator in disputes, if appropriate.  This can involve conducting fact-finding to assist parties in resolving disputes, and posting final statements on any recommendations for future action with regard to the Guidelines. The NCP may also monitor how its recommendations are implemented by the business in question. In April 2017, the French NCP signed a two-year partnership with Global Compact France to increase sharing of information and activity between the two organizations.

In France, corporate governance standards for publicly traded companies are the product of a combination of legislative provisions and the recommendations of the AFEP-MEDEF code (two employers’ organizations). The code, which defines principles of corporate governance by outlining rules for corporate officers, controls and transparency, meets the expectations of shareholders and various stakeholders, as well as of the European Commission. First introduced in September 2002, it is regularly updated, adding new principles for the determination of remuneration and independence of directors, and now includes corporate social and environmental responsibility standards. The latest amendments in February 2019 tackle the remuneration and post-employment benefits of Chief Executive Officers and Executive Officers: 60 percent variable remuneration based on quantitative objectives and 40 percent on quality objectives, including efforts in the corporate social responsibility.

Also relating to transparency, the EU passed a new regulation in May 2017 to stem the trade in conflict minerals and, in particular, to stop conflict minerals and metals from being exported to the EU; to prevent global and EU smelters and refiners from using conflict minerals; and to protect mine workers from being abused. The regulation goes into effect January 1, 2021, and will then apply directly to French law.

France has played an active role in negotiating the ISO 26000 standards, the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. France has signed on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), although, it has not yet been fully implemented. Since 2017, large companies based in France and having at least 5,000 employees are now required to establish and implement a corporate plan to identify and assess any risks to human rights, fundamental freedoms, workers’ health, safety, and risk to the environment from activities of their company and its affiliates.

The February 2017 “Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law” requires large companies to set up, implement, and publish a “vigilance plan” to identify risks and prevent “serious violations” of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and serious environmental damage.

In 2021, France enacted a Climate and Resilience Law covering consumption and food, economy and industry, transportation, housing, and strengthening sanctions against environmental violations. The production and work chapter aligns France’s national research strategy with its national low carbon and national biodiversity strategies. All public procurement must consider environmental criteria. To protect ecosystems, the law amends several mining code provisions, including the requirement to develop a responsible extractive model. The law translates France’s multi-year energy program into regional renewable energy development objectives, creates the development of citizen renewable energy communities, and requires installation of solar panels or green roofs on commercial surfaces, offices, and parking lots. The consumption chapter requires an environmental sticker and inscription to better inform consumers of a product or service’s impact on climate. The law bans advertising of fossil fuels by 2022 and advertising of the most carbon-emitting cars (i.e., those that emit more than 123 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer) by 2028. The law also empowered local authorities with mechanisms to reduce paper advertisements and regulate electronic advertising screens in shop windows. Large- and medium-sized stores (i.e., those with over 400 square meters of sales area) must devote 20 percent of their sales area to bulk sales by 2030. In the agriculture sector, the law sets annual emissions reduction levels concerning nitrogen fertilizers; failure to meet these objectives will trigger a tax beginning in 2024. The law’s transportation chapter extends France’s 2019 Mobility law by creating 33 low-emission zones in urban areas that have more than 150,000 inhabitants by the end of 2024, and bans cars manufactured before 1996 in these large cities. In the top 10 cities that regularly exceed air quality limits on particulates, the law will ban vehicles that have air quality certification stickers of above a certain level. The law requires regions to offer attractive fares on regional trains, bans domestic flights when there is train transportation of less than 2.5 hours, requires airlines to conduct carbon offsetting for domestic flights beginning in 2022, and creates carpool lanes. The law creates a road ecotax starting in 2024, prohibits the sale of new cars that emit more than 95 gram of carbon dioxide per kilometer by 2030 and of new trucks, buses, and coaches with 95 gCO2/km emissions by 2040, and provides incentives to develop bicycle paths, parking areas, and rail and waterway transport.

The Climate and Resilience Law’s housing chapter seeks to accelerate the environmental renovation of buildings. Starting in 2023, owners of poorly insulated housing must undertake energy renovation work if they want to increase rent rates. The law forbids leasing non-insulated housing beginning in 2025 and bans leasing any type of poorly insulated housing beginning in 2028. It also provides information, incentives, and control mechanisms empowering tenants to demand landlords conduct energy renovation work. Beginning in 2022, the law requires an energy audit, including proposals, when selling poorly insulated housing. All households will have access to a financing mechanism to pay the remaining costs of their renovation work via government-guaranteed loans. The law regulates the laying of concrete, mandates a 50 percent reduction in the rate of land use by 2030, requires net zero land reclamation by 2050, and prohibits the construction of new shopping centers that lead to modifying natural environment. The law aims to protect 30 percent of France’s sensitive natural areas and supports local authorities in adapting their coastal territories against receding coastlines. The law’s final chapter focuses on environmental violations and reinforces sanctions for environmental damage, such as long-term degradation to fauna and flora (up to three years in prison and a €250,000 ($273,000) fine), as well as for the general offense of environmental pollution and “ecocide” (up to 10 years in prison and a €4.5 million ($4.9 million) fine or up to 10 times the profit obtained by the individual committing the environmental damage). The chapter uses the term “ecocide” to refer to the most serious cases of environmental damage, although the term is not defined in the law. Even if pollution has not occurred, these penalties apply as long as the individual’s behavior is considered to have put the environment in “danger.”

9. Corruption

In line with President Macron’s campaign promise to clean up French politics, the French parliament adopted in September 2017 the law on “Restoring Confidence in Public Life.” The new law bans elected officials from employing family members, or working as a lobbyist or consultant while in office. It also bans lobbyists from paying parliamentary, ministerial, or presidential staff and requires parliamentarians to submit receipts for expenses.

France’s “Transparency, Anti-corruption, and Economic Modernization Law,” also known as the “Loi Sapin II,” came into effect on June 1, 2017. It brought France’s legislation in line with European and international standards. Key aspects of the law include: creating a new anti-corruption agency; establishing “deferred prosecution” for defendants in corruption cases and prosecuting companies (French or foreign) suspected of bribing foreign public officials abroad; requiring lobbyists to register with national institutions; and expanding legal protections for whistleblowers. The Sapin II law also established a High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP). The HATVP promotes transparency in public life by publishing the declarations of assets and interests it is legally authorized to share publicly. After review, declarations of assets and statements of interests of members of the government are published on the High Authority’s website under open license. The declarations of interests of members of Parliament and mayors of big cities and towns, but also of regions are also available on the website. In addition, the declarations of assets of parliamentarians can be accessed in certain governmental buildings, though not published on the internet.

France is a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. The U.S. Embassy in Paris has received no specific complaints from U.S. firms of unfair competition in France in recent years. France ranked 22rd of 180 countries on Transparency International’s (TI) 2021 corruption perceptions index. See  https://www.transparency.org/country/FRA .

Gabon

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) among both producers and consumers; however, there are no formal rules or regulations pertaining to RBC in Gabon.

Gabon has several NGO’s working primarily in the environment, human rights, and mining sectors. The political labor unions in Gabon have taken the lead in promoting and monitoring RBC, and they are able to work freely. With a push from these labor unions, Gabon fairly enforces labor rights laws and regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. However, Gabon has not effectively enforced consumer protection laws and regulations.

While Gabon is widely praised as a leader in environmental protection and has been praised as a positive example in Africa, pollution remains a problem and prosecution is weak and penalties lacking.

Gabon has not put in place corporate finance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. There are no domestic measures requiring supply chain due diligence for companies that source minerals.

Gabonese authorities state that the government is committed to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles. Gabon was a candidate for the EITI beginning in 2007. By December 2012, Gabon was required to have completed an EITI validation that demonstrated compliance with the initiative’s rules. However, due to the non-respect of deadlines and the non-performance of Gabon’s National EITI Committee, the International Council of the EITI voted on February 27, 2013, to exclude Gabon from the application process. Under the current IMF program, Gabon rejoined the EITI on October 2021.

There is no information on national legislation regarding private security companies. Gabon is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. Little information is available on the private security industry in Gabon. An estimate from 2015 nevertheless indicated that the sector in Gabon employs around 7,000 PSC personnel, indicating that it is a significant actor in the Gabonese security landscape.

9. Corruption

The Gabonese penal code criminalizes abuse of office, embezzlement, passive and active bribery, trading in influence, extortion, offering or accepting gifts, and other undue advantages in the public sector, yet enforcement remains limited and official impunity is a problem. Private sector corruption is criminalized whenever a given company is related to a public entity. Punishments for public officials found guilty of soliciting or accepting bribes include prison sentences ranging from two to 10 years, and a fine of CFA 5 million (USD $8,572). Corruption is rarely prosecuted in Gabon, except in limited high-profile cases. In 2020, Transparency International listed Gabon at 129 of 179 countries.

The government established the Commission to Combat Illicit Enrichment (CNLCEI) in 2004; however, in the summer of 2018, the CNLCEI’s five-year mandate was not renewed. Its regulations did not extend to the family members of civil servants or to political parties.

There are no known laws or regulations to counter conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or government procurement. There is no information about any action on the part of the government to encourage or require private companies to establish codes of conduct that prohibit the bribery of public officials. Some private companies use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.

Gabon is a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption and is a member of the Task Force on Money Laundering in Central Africa (Groupe daction contre le blanchiment dargent en Afrique Centrale, or GABAC). However, no international or regional watchdog organizations operate in Gabon. Local civil society lacks the capacity to play a significant role in highlighting cases of corruption.

Companies reportedly contend with a high risk of corruption when dealing with the Gabonese extractive industries. Gabon has vast oil, manganese, and timber resources; however, contracting and licensing processes lack transparency.

Georgia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

While the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a relatively new phenomenon in Georgia, it is growing. Most large companies engage in charity projects and public outreach as part of their marketing strategy. The American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia has a Corporate CSR committee that works with member companies on CSR issues. The Global Compact, a worldwide group of UN agencies, private businesses, and civil society groups promoting responsible corporate citizenship, is active in Georgia. The Eurasia Partnership Foundation launched a program on corporate social investment to promote greater private company engagement in addressing Georgia’s development needs.

The Georgian government undertook an OECD CSR policy review in 2016 based on the OECD Policy Framework for Investment. The OECD completed a follow-up Investment Policy Review assessment in 2020 and noted Georgia’s significant strides ( http://www.oecd.org/investment/oecd-investment-policy-reviews-georgia-0d33d7b7-en.htm ).

Georgia participates in the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Program, which works with countries in the region to unleash their economic and employment potential. Georgia participates in the OECD Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which provides a regional forum for promotion of anti-corruption activities, exchange of information on best practices, and donor coordination. Georgia is a member of the Task Force for the Implementation of the Environmental Action Program (EAP Task Force), which aims to address the heavy environmental legacy of the Soviet development model. Additionally, the Support for Improvement in Governance and Management (SIGMA) program, a joint initiative of the EU and the OECD, has assisted Georgia since 2008, to strengthen public governance systems and public administration capacities. Georgia participates in the OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs’ Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) Project.

Georgia’s civil society and workers associations are active in responding to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, and other concerns, as well as new laws and regulations that intend to protect or have potential adverse effects on citizens.

Georgia is not a party to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and/or Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights despite extractive manganese, gold, and copper ore industries operating in Georgia. Among the local tools promoting CSR principles and policies in such industries are commercial chambers, the Public Defender’s office, the Business Ombudsman under the Prime Minister’s Office, sectoral trade unions, and Georgia’s Trade Union Confederation.

Georgia has ratified The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies.

9. Corruption

Georgia has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption.  Georgia criminalizes bribery under the Criminal Code of Georgia. Chapter XXXIX of the Criminal Code, titled as Official Misconduct, among other crime, covers many corruption-related offenses committed by public servants including bribery, abuse of official powers, accepting a prohibited gift, forgery of official documentation, etc.  Senior public officials must file financial disclosure forms, which are publicly available online, and Georgian legislation provides for the civil forfeiture of undocumented assets of public officials who are charged with corruption-related offenses.

Penalties for accepting a bribe start at six years in prison and can extend to 15 years, depending on the circumstances.  Penalties for giving a bribe can include a fine, correctional labor, house arrest, or prison sentence up to three years.  In aggravated circumstances, when a bribe is given to commit an illegal act, the penalty is from four to seven years.  When bribe-giving is committed by the organized group, the sentence is imprisonment for 5 to 8 years. Abuse of authority by public servants are criminal acts under Articles 332 of the criminal code and carry a maximum penalty of eight years imprisonment.  The definition of a public official includes foreign public officials and employees of international organizations and courts.  White collar crimes, such as bribery, fall under the investigative jurisdiction of the Prosecutor’s Office. The laws extend to family members of officials.

Georgia is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Georgia has, however, ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. Georgia cooperates with the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Network for Transition Economies.

Following its assessment of Georgia in June 2016, the OECD released a report concluding that Georgia had achieved remarkable progress in eliminating petty corruption in public administration and should now focus on combating high-level and complex corruption. The report commends Georgia’s mechanism for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of its Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan, as well as the role given to civil society in this process. It also welcomes the adoption of a new Law on Civil Service and recommends that the remaining legislation to implement civil service reforms is adopted without delay. The report notes that the Civil Service Bureau and Human Resources units in state entities should be strengthened to ensure the implementation of the required reforms. The report highlights Georgia’s good track record in prosecuting corruption crimes and in using modern methods to confiscate criminal proceeds. It recommends that Georgia increase enforcement of corporate liability and the prosecution of foreign bribery to address the perception of corruption among local government officials. The full report is available at: http://www.oecd.org/corruption/anti-bribery/Georgia-Round-4-Monitoring-Report-ENG.pdf .

In April 2021, GRECO released its Second Compliance Report of Fourth Evaluation Round on Georgia, which deals with corruption prevention with regards to members of parliament (MPs), judges, and prosecutors. According to the report, since  2019  Georgia implemented two additional recommendations – totaling seven of 16 recommendations – for preventing corruption among MPs, judges, and prosecutors. The Compliance Report said Georgia satisfactorily implemented measures to enforce objective criteria for the recruitment and promotion of prosecutors, ensured further updates of the “Code of Ethics for Employees of the Prosecution Service of Georgia,” and introduced measures for enforcing the rules. Out of the nine outstanding recommendations, two remain unaddressed while seven have been partly implemented. The sixteen recommendations were adopted in 2016, in the Fourth Round Evaluation Report on Georgia, by the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring body.

Since 2003, Georgia has significantly improved its ranking in Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) report. TI ranked Georgia 45th out of 180 countries in the 2021 edition  of its CPI.

While Georgia has been successful in fighting visible, low-level corruption, Georgia remains vulnerable to what TI calls “elite” corruption: high-level officials exploiting legal loopholes for personal enrichment, status, or retribution. Although the evidence is mostly anecdotal, this form of corruption, or the perception of its existence, has the potential to erode public and investor confidence in Georgia’s institutions and the investment environment. Corruption remains a potential problem in public procurement processes, public administration practices, and the judicial system due to unclear laws and ethical standards.

Germany

8. Responsible Business Conduct

In December 2016, the Federal Government passed the National Action Plan for Business and Human Rights (NAP), applying the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights to the activities of German companies though largely voluntary measures. A 2020 review found most companies did not sufficiently fulfill due diligence measures and in 2021 Germany passed the legally binding Human Rights Due Diligence in Supply Chains Act. From 2023, the act will apply to companies with at least 3,000 employees with their central administration, principal place of business, administrative headquarters, a statutory seat, or a branch office in Germany. From 2024 it will apply to companies with at least 1000 employees. The 2021 coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens party, and the Free Democrats Party (FDP) committed to revising the NAP in line with the Supply Chains Act. Germany promoted EU-level legislation during its 2020 Council of the European Union presidency and the EU Commission published a legislative proposal in 2022.

Germany adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; the National Contact Point (NCP) is housed in the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action. The NCP is supported by an advisory board composed of several ministries, business organizations, trade unions, and NGOs. This working group usually meets once a year to discuss all Guidelines-related issues. The German NCP can be contacted through the Ministry’s website: https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Textsammlungen/Foreign-Trade/national-contact-point-ncp.html .

There is general awareness of environmental, social, and governance issues among both producers and consumers in Germany, and surveys suggest that consumers increasingly care about the ecological and social impacts of the products they purchase. In order to encourage businesses to factor environmental, social, and governance impacts into their decision-making, the government provides information online and in hard copy. The federal government encourages corporate social responsibility (CSR) through awards and prizes, business fairs, and reports and newsletters. The government also organizes so-called “sector dialogues” to connect companies and facilitate the exchange of best practices and offers practice days to help nationally as well as internationally operating small- and medium-sized companies discern and implement their entrepreneurial due diligence under the NAP. To this end it has created a website on CSR in Germany ( http://www.csr-in-deutschland.de/EN/Home/home.html  in English). The German government maintains and enforces domestic laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protections, and environmental protections. The German government does not waive labor and environmental laws to attract investment.

Social reporting is currently voluntary, but publicly listed companies frequently include information on their CSR policies in annual shareholder reports and on their websites.

Civil society groups that work on CSR include Amnesty International Germany, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e. V. (BUND), CorA Corporate Accountability – Netzwerk Unternehmensverantwortung, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Germanwatch, Greenpeace Germany, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), Sneep (Studentisches Netzwerk zu Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik), Stiftung Warentest, Südwind – Institut für Ökonomie und Ökumene, TransFair – Verein zur Förderung des Fairen Handels mit der „Dritten Welt“ e. V., Transparency International, Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V., Bundesverband Die Verbraucher Initiative e.V., and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, known as the “World Wildlife Fund” in the United States).

9. Corruption

Among industrialized countries, Germany ranks 10th out of 180, according to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index. Some sectors including the automotive industry, construction sector, and public contracting, exert political influence and political party finance remains only partially transparent. Nevertheless, U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an impediment to investment in Germany. Germany is a signatory of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

Over the last two decades, Germany has increased penalties for the bribery of German officials, corrupt practices between companies, and price-fixing by companies competing for public contracts. It has also strengthened anti-corruption provisions on financial support extended by the official export credit agency and has tightened the rules for public tenders. Government officials are forbidden from accepting gifts linked to their jobs. Most state governments and local authorities have contact points for whistleblowing and provisions for rotating personnel in areas prone to corruption. There are serious penalties for bribing officials and price fixing by companies competing for public contracts.

To prevent corruption, Germany relies on the existing legal and regulatory framework consisting of various provisions under criminal law, public service law, and other rules for the administration at both federal and state levels. The framework covers internal corruption prevention, accounting standards, capital market disclosure requirements, and transparency rules, among other measures.

According to the Federal Criminal Office, in 2020, 50.6 percent of all corruption cases were directed towards the public administration (down from 73 percent in 2018), 33.2 percent towards the business sector (down from 39 percent in 2019), 13.4 percent towards law enforcement and judicial authorities (up from 9 percent in 2019), and 2 percent to political officials (unchanged compared to 2018).

Parliamentarians are subject to financial disclosure laws that require them to publish earnings from outside employment. Disclosures are available to the public via the Bundestag website (next to the parliamentarians’ biographies) and in the Official Handbook of the Bundestag. Penalties for noncompliance can range from an administrative fine to as much as half of a parliamentarian’s annual salary. In early 2021, several parliamentarians stepped down due to inappropriate financial gains made through personal relationships to businesses involved in the procurement of face masks during the initial stages of the pandemic.

Donations by private persons or entities to political parties are legally permitted. However, if they exceed €50,000, they must be reported to the President of the Bundestag, who is required to immediately publish the name of the party, the amount of the donation, the name of the donor, the date of the donation, and the date the recipient reported the donation. Donations of €10,000 or more must be included in the party’s annual accountability report to the President of the Bundestag.

State prosecutors are generally responsible for investigating corruption cases, but not all state governments have prosecutors specializing in corruption. Germany has successfully prosecuted hundreds of domestic corruption cases over the years, including large– scale cases against major companies.

Media reports in past years about bribery investigations against Siemens, Daimler, Deutsche Telekom, Deutsche Bank, and Ferrostaal have increased awareness of the problem of corruption. As a result, listed companies and multinationals have expanded compliance departments, tightened internal codes of conduct, and offered more training to employees.

Ghana

8. Responsible Business Conduct 

There is no specific responsible business conduct (RBC) law in Ghana, and the government has no action plan regarding OECD RBC guidelines.

Ghana has been a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative since 2010.  The government also enrolled in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights in 2014.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is gaining more attention among Ghanaian companies.  The Ghana Club 100 is a ranking of the top performing companies, as determined by GIPC.  It is based on several criteria, with a 10 percent weight assigned to corporate social responsibility, including philanthropy.  Companies have noted that Ghanaian consumers are not generally interested in the CSR activities of private companies, with the exception of the extractive industries (whose CSR efforts seem to attract consumer, government, and media attention).  In particular, there is a widespread expectation that extractive sector companies will involve themselves in substantial philanthropic activities in the communities in which they have operations.

Greece

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) including environmental, social, and governance issues, has been growing over the last decade among both producers and consumers in Greece.  Several enterprises, particularly large ones, in many fields of production and services, have accepted and now promote CSR principles.  Several non-profit business associations have emerged in the last few years (Hellenic Network for Corporate Social Responsibility, Global Sustain, etc.) to disseminate CSR values and to promote them in the business world and society more broadly.  These groups’ members have incorporated programs that contribute to the sustainable economic development of the communities in which they operate; minimize the impacts of their activities on the environment and natural resources; create healthy and safe working conditions for their employees; provide equal opportunities for employment and professional development; and provide shareholders with satisfactory returns through responsible social and environmental management.  Firms that pursue CSR in Greece enhance the public acceptance and respect that they enjoy.  In 2014, the government drafted a National Action Plan for Corporate Social Responsibility for the 2014-2021 period.  The main goal of the plan is to increase the number of companies that recognize and use CSR to formulate their strategies.  Greece has encouraged adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.  There are no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to CSR that foreign businesses should be aware of.  Greece is not a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.  Greece signed the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies in 2009.  It has also been a supporter of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers and is a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

Greece saw a slight increase in perceptions of corruption, as it went up one place to 59 on Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perception Index, from 60 in 2019 and 67 in 2018.  By contrast, the country had improved since 2012, partly due to mandatory structural reforms.  Despite these structural improvements, bureaucracy is reportedly slowing the progress.  Transparency International issued a report in 2018 criticizing the government for improper public procurement actions involving Greek government ministers and the recent appointment of the close advisor to the country’s prime minister to be the head of the Hellenic Competition Commission, which oversees the enforcement of anti-trust legislation.  Transparency International released another report in October 2018, warning of the corruption risks posed by golden visa programs, mentioning Greece as a top issuer of golden visas.  In Transparency International’s 2020 report, the organization outlined the costs directly stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, including cases of foreign bribery occurring in the health care sector.

On March 19, 2015, the government passed Law 4320, which provides for the establishment of a General Secretariat for Combatting Corruption under the authority of a new Minister of State.  Under Article 12 of the Law, this entity drafts a national anti-corruption strategy, with an emphasis on coordination between anti-corruption bodies within various ministries and agencies, including the Economic Police, the Financial and Economic Crime Unit (SDOE), the Ministries’ Internal Control Units, and the Health and Welfare Services Inspection Body.  Based on Law 4320, two major anti-corruption bodies, the Inspectors-Controllers Body for Public Administration (SEEDD) and the Inspectors-Controllers Body for Public Works (SEDE), were moved under the jurisdiction of the General Secretariat for Combatting Corruption.  A Minister of State for combatting corruption was appointed to the cabinet following the January 2015 elections and given oversight of government efforts to combat corruption and economic crimes.  The minister drafted coordinated plans of action, monitored their implementation, and was given operational control of the Economic Crime division of the Hellenic Police, the SDOE, ministries’ internal control units, and the Health and Welfare Services’ inspection body.  Following the September 2015 national elections, the government abolished the cabinet post of Minister of State for combatting corruption and assigned those duties to a new alternate minister for combatting corruption in the Ministry of Justice, Transparency, and Human Rights.

Legislation passed on May 11, 2015, provides a wider range of disciplinary sanctions against state employees accused of misconduct or breach of duty, while eliminating the immediate suspension of an accused employee prior to the completion of legal proceedings.  If found guilty, offenders could be deprived of wages for up to 12 months and forced to relinquish their right to regain a senior post for a period of one to five years.  Certain offenders could also be fined from €3,000 to €100,000.  The law requires income and asset disclosure by appointed and elected officials, including nonpublic sector employees, such as journalists and heads of state-funded NGOs.  Several different agencies are mandated to monitor and verify disclosures, including the General Inspectorate for Public Administration, the police internal affairs bureau, the Piraeus appeals prosecutor, and an independent permanent parliamentary committee.  Declarations are made publicly available.  The law provides for administrative and criminal sanctions for noncompliance. Penalties range from two to ten years’ imprisonment and fines from €10,000 to €1 million.  On August 7, 2019, Parliament passed legislation establishing a unified transparency authority by transferring the powers and responsibilities of public administration inspection services to an independent authority.  In November 2019, laws addressing the bribery of officials were amended to include a specific definition of “public official” and to make active bribery of a public official a felony instead of a misdemeanor, punishable by a prison sentence of five to eight years (as opposed to three years).  On November 17, 2020, the government established the Financial Prosecutor’s Office to deal with financial crime in the wake of public complaints about an investigation by the Corruption Prosecutor’s Office into a case involving the pharmaceutical company Novartis.  The new office, headed by a senior prosecutor selected by the Supreme Judicial Council of the Supreme Court, included 16 prosecutors, and became operational in November 2020.

Bribery is a criminal act, and the law provides severe penalties for infractions, although diligent implementation and haphazard or uneven enforcement of the law remains an issue.  Historically, the problem has been most acute in government procurement, as political influence and other considerations are widely believed to play a significant role in the evaluation of bids.  Corruption related to the health care system and political party funding are areas of concern, as is the “fragmented” anti-corruption apparatus.  NGOs and other observers have expressed concern over perceived high levels of official corruption.  Permanent and ad hoc government entities charged with combating corruption are understaffed and underfinanced. There is a widespread perception that there are high levels of corruption in the public sector and tax evasion in the private sector, and many Greeks view corruption as the main obstacle to economic recovery.

The Ministry of Justice prosecutes cases of bribery and corruption.  In cases where politicians are involved, the Greek parliament can conduct investigations and/or lift parliamentary immunity to allow a special court action to proceed against the politician.  A December 2014 law does not allow high ranking officials, including the prime minister, ministers, alternate, and deputy ministers, parliament deputies, European Parliament deputies, general and special secretaries, regional governors and vice governors, and mayors and deputy mayors to benefit from more lenient sentences in cases involving official bribes.  In 2019, Parliament passed an amendment to Article 62 of the constitution, which limits parliamentary immunity to acts carried out in the course of parliamentary duties.  In addition, Parliament amended Article 86 of the constitution, abolishing the statute of limitations for crimes committed by ministers and to disallow postponements for trials of ministers.

Greece is a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention, which it signed on December 10, 2003, and ratified September 17, 2008.  As a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Government Officials and all relevant EU-mandated anti-corruption agreements, the Greek government is committed in principle to penalizing those who commit bribery in Greece or abroad.  The OECD Convention has been in effect since 1999.  Greek accession to other relevant conventions or treaties:

Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption: Signed June 8, 2000.  Ratified February 21, 2002.  Entry into force: November 1, 2003.

Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption: Signed January 27, 1999.  Ratified July 10, 2007.  Entry into force: November 1, 2007.

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime: Signed on December 13, 2000.  Ratified January 11, 2011.

Grenada

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporate social responsibility (CSR), interchangeably used with responsible business conduct, is a concept that was introduced to Grenada relatively recently by multinational and regional corporations. Local businesses are slowly incorporating this principle into their operations.

Some social responsibility initiatives undertaken by the private sector and non-governmental organizations include education programs, fitness programs, sporting activities, and cultural endeavors. These are predominantly implemented by the telecommunication companies Digicel and LIME, along with financial institutions. There is also a recent push towards environmentally friendly business practices and development projects.

While firms that promote CSR are more favorably viewed by the community, there is little familiarity with international CSR standards. Activities are deemed to be responsible business conduct if they are lawful, not a threat to national security, and not detrimental to the environment, health, and culture of the Grenadian people. Other than this being a requirement for any company operating in Grenada, CSR is not built into the laws governing the operations of a company.

There has been no high profile, controversial instances of private sector impact on human rights or resolution of such cases in the recent past. Grenada generally enforces domestic laws in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. Local labor unions play a role in promoting and monitoring responsible business conduct. Grenada uses private security companies but is not a signatory to The Montreux Document or the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers.

There are no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to responsible business conduct, that foreign businesses should be aware of, and neither has there been claims in the last five years by indigenous or other communities that a government entity improperly allocated land or natural resources, or arrests of and/or violence against environmental defenders.

9. Corruption

Grenada is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption. The Integrity in Public Life Act (Act No.24 of 2013) requires that all public servants report their income and assets to the independent Integrity Commission for review. The Integrity in Public Life Commission monitors and verifies disclosures, although disclosures are not made public except in court. Failure to file a disclosure should be noted in the Official Gazette. If the office holder in question fails to file in response to this notification, the commission can seek a court order to enforce compliance.

The Office of the Ombudsman received 29 complaints in 2020, compared to 59 in 2019 and 64 in 2018. Of the 29 complaints, one was closed, 12 are ongoing, 7 received advice/referrals, and 9 were outside the jurisdiction of the ombudsman. Private entities received the highest number of complaints totaling 9, followed by the Ministry of Labor with 6. Of the 9 complaints, advice/referrals were given to 3, and 6 were beyond the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. Of the 6 complaints against the Ministry of Labor, 3 are ongoing, 2 received advice/referrals and1 was beyond the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

Bribery is illegal in Grenada. For the most part, the enforcement of anti-bribery laws and procedures is effective and non-discriminatory.

Grenada is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. The country accepted and acknowledged the UN Convention against Corruption but has not yet signed or ratified it.

U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI in Grenada.

Guatemala

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of expectations of standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) on the part of producers and service providers, as well as Guatemalan business chambers. A local organization called the Center for Socially Responsible Business Action (CentraRSE) promotes, advocates, and monitors RBC in Guatemala. They operate freely with multiple partner organizations, ranging from private sector to United Nations entities. CentraRSE currently has over 100 affiliated companies from 20 different sectors that provide employment to over 150,000 individuals. CentraRSE defines RBC as a business culture based on ethical principles, strong law enforcement, and respect for individuals, families, communities, and the environment, which contributes to businesses competitiveness, general welfare, and sustainable development. The Guatemalan government did not have a definition of RBC as of March 2022. Guatemala joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in February 2011 and was designated EITI compliant in March 2014. The EITI board suspended Guatemala in February 2019 for failing to publish the 2016 EITI report and the 2017 annual progress report by the December 31, 2018 deadline. Guatemala published the 2016-2017 EITI report and the 2017 annual progress report in February and March 2019. The EITI board suspended Guatemala again in January 2020 after deciding that Guatemala has made inadequate progress in implementing the 2016 EITI standard. The EITI board requested Guatemala to undertake corrective actions before a second validation related to the requirements started on July 23, 2021. On December 24, 2020, the EITI board postponed the date to start Guatemala’s second validation process to April 1, 2022. Guatemala published the 2018-2020 EITI report in November 2021 but remained suspended as of March 2022.

The State Department has recognized U.S. companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Denimatrix for corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs in Guatemala that aimed to foster safe and productive workplaces as well as provide health and education programs to workers, their families, and local communities. Communities with low levels of government funding for health, education, and infrastructure generally expect companies to implement CSR practices.

Conflict surrounding certain industrial projects – in particular mining and hydroelectric projects – is frequent, and there have been several cases of violence against protestors in the recent past, including several instances of murder. On October 24, 2021, President Alejandro Giammattei declared a State of Siege in El Estor as dozens of protestors, including environmental defenders, indigenous activists, and outside agitators blocked coal trucks from accessing a nickel mine and clashed with National Police (PNC). Media reported that the government maintained a force of 500 police and military in El Estor during the 30-day State of Siege to carry out patrols, manage vehicle checkpoints, and conduct raids. Indigenous leaders, journalists, and civil society organizations alleged that they faced arbitrary detentions and persecution for participating in anti-mining protests. Lack of clarity over indigenous consultations continues to impact Guatemala’s investment climate. On December 10, 2021, the government declared the successful conclusion of the ILO consultations with those indigenous groups they designated as participants in the consultation process for the nickel mine. The community’s self-determined governance structure, the Ancestral Council of Q’eqchi Peoples, was excluded from the consultations, and critics claimed that the government purposely neglected to include the group.

9. Corruption

Bribery is illegal under Guatemala’s Penal Code. Guatemala scored 25 out of 100 points on Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, ranking it 150 out of 180 countries globally, and 28 out of 32 countries in the region. The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but the Public Ministry (MP) prosecuted very few government corruption cases.

Investors find corruption pervasive in government procurement, including payment of bribes in exchange for awarding public construction contracts. Investors and importers are frequently frustrated by opaque customs transactions, particularly at ports and borders. The Tax and Customs Authority (SAT) launched a customs modernization program in 2006, which implemented an advanced electronic manifest system and resulted in the removal of many corrupt officials. However, reports of corruption within customs’ processes remain. In 2021, SAT implemented additional customs reforms that route flagged shipments to a dedicated secondary inspection team for resolution, rather than assigning the case to the original inspector. The change eliminates opportunity for an inspector to impose deliberate delays.

From 2006 to 2019, the UN-sponsored International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) undertook numerous high-profile official corruption investigations, leading to significant indictments. For example, CICIG unveiled a customs corruption scheme in 2015 that led to the resignations of the former president and vice president. Since then-President Morales terminated CICIG in 2019 and actions by Attorney General Consuelo Porras to impede anti-corruption prosecutors, impunity has increased and poses significant risks for potential new investors.

Guatemala’s Government Procurement Law requires most government purchases over $116,363 to be submitted for public competitive bidding. Since March 2004, Guatemalan government entities are required to use Guatecompras ( https://www.guatecompras.gt/ ), an Internet-based electronic procurement system to track government procurement processes. Guatemalan government entities must also comply with government procurement commitments under CAFTA-DR. In August 2009, the Guatemalan congress approved reforms to the Government Procurement Law, which simplified bidding procedures; eliminated the fee previously charged to receive bidding documents; and provided an additional opportunity for suppliers to raise objections over the bidding process. Despite these reforms, large government procurements are often subject to appeals and injunctions based on claims of irregularities in the bidding process (e.g., documentation issues and lack of transparency). In November 2015, the Guatemalan congress approved additional amendments to the Government Procurement Law that tried to improve the transparency of the procurement processes by barring government contracts for some financers of political campaigns and parties, members of congress, other elected officials, government workers, and their immediate family members. However, there continue to be multiple allegations corruption and nepotism in the procurement process. The 2015 reforms expanded the scope of procurement oversight to include public trust funds and all institutions (including NGOs) executing public funds. The U.S. government continues to advocate for the use of open, fair, and transparent tenders in government procurement as well as procedures that comply with CAFTA-DR obligations, which would allow open participation by U.S. companies.

Guatemala ratified the U.N. Convention against Corruption in November 2006, and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in July 2001. Guatemala is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. In October 2012, the Guatemalan congress approved an anti-corruption law that increased penalties for existing crimes and added new crimes such as illicit enrichment, trafficking in influence, and illegal charging of commissions.

Guinea

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The 2013 Mining Code includes Guinea’s first legal framework outlining corporate social responsibility.  Under the provisions of the code, mining companies must submit social and environmental impact plans for approval before operations can begin and sign a code of good conduct, agreeing to refrain from corrupt activities and to follow the precepts of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).  However, lack of capacity in the various ministries involved makes government monitoring and enforcement of corporate social responsibility requirements difficult, a gap that some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are filling.  In February 2019, Guinea was found to have achieved meaningful progress in implementing EITI standards.  The EITI Board outlined eight corrective actions, including disclosing more information on infrastructure agreements, direct subnational payments, and quasi-fiscal expenditures.  The Board noted that the EITI should play a role in overseeing the new Local Economic Development Fund (FODEL).  Mining companies continue to note a lack of transparency in the expenditure of revenues by the National Agency for Mining Infrastructure (ANAIM).

The 2019 Environmental Code also has specific provisions regarding environmental and social due diligence on any development projects.  The Code requires each development project to conduct an environmental impact study which includes a list of mitigation measures for any negative impact.

Guinea has laws that protect the population from adverse business impacts however, these laws are not effectively enforced.  In the last few years, there were several cases of private enterprise having an adverse impact on human rights, especially in the mining and energy sectors.  The government is often reluctant to fully enforce legislation regarding responsible conduct and the mitigation of these impacts.  There are several local and international organizations that are promoting and monitoring the implementation of RBCs.  Guinea is not signatory of the Montreux document on Private Military and Security Companies.

9. Corruption

According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Guinea lost 13 points and was ranked 150 out of 180 countries listed.

Guinea passed an Anti-Corruption Law in 2017, and in April 2019, a former director of the Guinean Office of Advertising was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling GNF 39 billion (approximately USD four million), though in June 2019, he was acquitted by the Appeals Court and was elected a member of the National Assembly in March 2020.  It is not clear whether the Anti-Corruption Law was used to prosecute the case.  According to a 2019 Afrobarometer survey, at least 40 percent of Guineans reported having given a government official a bribe, while a 2016 World Bank Enterprise Survey reported that of 150 firms surveyed, 48.7 percent reported that they were expected to give “gifts” to public officials to get things done, but only 7.9 percent reported having paid a bribe.

The business and political culture, coupled with low salaries, have historically combined to promote and encourage corruption.  Requests for bribes are a common occurrence.  Though it is illegal to pay bribes in Guinea, there is little enforcement of these laws.  In practice, it is difficult and time-consuming to conduct business without giving “gifts” in Guinea, leaving U.S. companies, who must comply with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, at a disadvantage.

Although the law provides criminal penalties for corruption, the law does not extend to family members of government officials. It does include provisions for political parties.  According to the World Bank’s 2018 Worldwide Governance Indicators, corruption continues to remain a severe problem, and Guinea is in the 13th percentile, down from being in the 15th percentile in 2012.  Public funds have been diverted for private use or for illegitimate public uses, such as buying vehicles for government workers.  Land sales and business contracts generally lack transparency.

Guinea’s Anti-Corruption Agency (ANLC) is an autonomous agency established by presidential decree in 2004.  The ANLC reports directly to the President and is currently the only state agency focused solely on fighting corruption, though it has been largely ineffective in its role with no successful convictions.  The ANLC’s Bureau of Complaint Reception fields anonymous tips forwarded to the ANLC. Investigations and cases must then be prosecuted through criminal courts.  According to the ANLC, during the past year there were no prosecutions as a result of tips.  The agency is underfunded, understaffed, and lacks computers and vehicles.  The ANLC is comprised of 52 employees in seven field offices, with a budget of USD 1.1 million in 2018.

Former President Conde’s administration named corruption in both the governmental and commercial spheres as one of its top agenda items.  In November 2019, Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria, and President Alpha Conde reached an agreement through which the Commission will assist Guinea to establish an anti-corruption agency; however, it is not clear if that meant reforming the existing anti-corruption agency or establishing a new anti-corruption agency.

In January 2021, Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli businessman and billionaire was sentenced to five years in jail in Geneva for bribing the wife of Guinea’s late President Lansana Conté to gain the rights to one of the world’s richest iron-ore deposits.  He was also ordered to pay a 50 million Swiss franc (USD 56 million) fine.  Steinmetz has long claimed to be a victim of a vast international conspiracy to deprive him of the rights to the Simandou project.  He plans to appeal his case.

Transition President COL Doumbouya created the Court to Repress Economic and Financial Crimes (CRIEF) to handle cases involving embezzlement, corruption, and misuse of public funds over one billion GNF (approximately $110,000) in December 2021.  As of April 2022, the court has focused on collecting evidence for corruption cases against businesses tied to and officials that served in former President Conde’s government.

 

A 2016 survey by the ANLC, the Open Society Initiative-West Africa (OSIWA), and Transparency International found that among private households, 61 percent of the respondents stated they were asked to pay a bribe for national services and 24 percent for local services.  Furthermore, 24 percent claimed to have paid traffic-related bribes to police, 24 percent for better medical treatment, 19 percent for better water or electricity services, and 8 percent for better judicial treatment.

Guinea is a party to the UN Anticorruption Convention.  http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/signatories.html

Guinea is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.  http://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/countryreportsontheimplementationoftheoecdanti-briberyconvention.htm

Since 2012, Guinea has had a Code for Public Procurement (Code de Marches Publics et Delegations de Service Public) that provides regulations for countering conflicts of interest in awarding contracts or in government procurements.  In 2016, the government issued a Transparency and Ethics charter for public procurement that provides the main do’s and don’ts in public procurement, highlighting avoidance of conflict of interest as a priority.  The charter also includes a template letter that companies must sign when bidding for public contracts stating that they will comply with local legislation and public procurement provisions, including practices to prevent corruption.

Since April 2020, Government of Guinea officials and family must complete the asset declaration form which is available on the Court of Audit website.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

National Agency to Fight Corruption (ANLC)
Cite des Nations, Villa 20, Conakry, Guinea
Korak Bailo Sow, Permanent Secretary
+224 622 411 796
ddiallo556@gmail.com
+224 620 647 878
cc@anlcgn.org

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

Transparency International
Dakar, Senegal
+221-33-842-40-44
forumcivil@orange.sn  

Guinea Association for Transparency
Oumar Kanah Diallo, President
+224 622 404 142
okandiallo77@gmail.com
agtguinee224@gmail.com 

Guyana

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Compared to responsible business conduct (RBC) norms in North America and Europe, Guyana-based businesses lag in adopting RBC policies and activities. However, there is increasing awareness of expectations for responsible business conduct. Guyana does not have a policy to encourage RBC. Most companies conform to their business responsibilities outlined by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including human rights and labor rights, information disclosure, environment, bribery, consumer interests, science and technology, competition, and taxation. Guyana’s laws align with the guidelines for RBC by the OECD. Despite these improvements, Guyana has human rights concerns, especially involving child labor in outlying regions and in the mining sector. The GoG enforces human rights laws but many report a lack of capacity to adequately enforce human and labor rights law

Local companies have improved RBC as firms react to increased levels of competition, partly to compete or subcontract with companies in the oil and gas sector that emphasize it.  Guyanese consumers are increasingly aware of RBC principles as the population becomes more sensitized. The GoG has expressed hope that large multinational companies will lead the way on RBC practices, setting an example for smaller local firms to follow, particularly in the extractive industries sector.  Guyana joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) as a candidate country in October 2017.  Guyana is not a signatory of the Montreux Document.

9. Corruption

The law provides criminal penalties for corrupt practices by public officials. The relevant laws enacted include the Integrity Commission Act, State Assets Recovery Act, and the Audit Act. Notably, the Integrity Commission Board expired in February 2021, with no appointments made as of March 2022. Several media outlets reported on government corruption in recent years, and it remains a significant public concern.  Guyana has regulations to counter conflict of interests in the award of contracts. Media and civil society organizations continued to criticize the government for being slow to prosecute corruption cases.  The government passed legislation in 1997 that requires public officials to disclose their assets to an Integrity Commission prior to assuming office.  There are no significant compliance programs to detect bribery of government officials. Guyana’s Integrity Commission was re-constituted in February 2018 after a 12-year hiatus, but only collects reports of asset declarations and lacks any ability to investigate suspected irregularities, complaints, or issues. The Integrity Commission can only flag asst declarations for investigation by other authorities.

Widespread concerns remain about inefficiencies and corruption regarding the awarding of contracts, particularly with respect to concerns of collusion and non-transparency.  In his 2020 annual report, the Auditor General noted continuous disregard for the procedures, rules, and the laws that govern public procurement system.  There were reports of overpayments of contracts and procurement breaches.  Nevertheless, the country has made some improvements. According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Guyana ranked 87 out of 180 countries for perceptions of corruption, falling 4 spots in comparison to 2020.

Companies interested in doing business in Guyana may contact a “watchdog” organization (international, regional, local nongovernmental organization operating in the country/economy that monitors corruption, such as Transparency International) for more information:

Haiti

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of responsible business conduct among producers and consumers is limited but growing, including corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Irish-owned telecommunications company Digicel, for example, sponsors an Entrepreneur of the Year program and has built 120 schools in Haiti. Natcom provides free internet service to several public schools throughout the country. Les Moulins d’Haiti, partially owned by U.S. firm Seaboard Marine, provides some services, including electrical power, to surrounding communities. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, many firms provided logistical or financial support to humanitarian initiatives, and many continue to contribute to reconstruction efforts. Haiti’s various chambers of commerce have also become more supportive of business ethics and social responsibility programs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Haitian, U.S., and other foreign-owned firms donated to prevention and treatment measures.

The Haitian government has not established any incentives to encourage to responsible business conduct.

9. Corruption

Corruption, including bribery, raises the costs and risks of doing business in Haiti. U.S. firms have complained that corruption is a major obstacle to effective business operation in Haiti. They frequently point to requests for payment by customs officials in order to clear import shipments as examples of solicitation for bribes.

Haitian law, applicable to individuals and financial institutions, criminalizes corruption and money laundering. Bribes or attempted bribes toward a public official are a criminal act and are punishable by the criminal code (Article 173) for one to three years of imprisonment. The law also contains provisions for the forfeiture and seizure of assets. In practice, however, the law is unevenly and rarely applied.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2021 ranked Haiti in the second lowest spot in the Americas region and 164 out of 180 countries worldwide, with a score of 20 out of 100 in perceived levels of public corruption.

The Haitian government has made some progress in enforcing public accountability and transparency, but substantive institutional reforms are still needed. In 2004, the Government of Haiti established the Anti-Corruption Commission (ULCC), but the organization lacks the necessary resources and political independence to be effective. In 2008, parliament approved the law on disclosure of assets by civil servants and high public officials prepared by ULCC, but to date, compliance has been almost nonexistent.

In February 2022, the ULCC announced the launch of the anti-Corruption circuit at the Court of Cassation. Made up of magistrates from the Courts of First Instance and Courts of Appeal of Haiti, the anti-corruption circuit aims to strengthen judicial efficiency and put an end to impunity in relation to corruption cases.

Haiti’s Superior Court of Auditors and Administrative Disputes (CSCCA) is currently one of Haiti’s few independent government institutions, responsible for reviewing draft government contracts; conducting audits of government expenditures; and clearing all government officials, including those at the political level, to manage public funds. In November 2020, however, the Haitian government published a decree limiting the authority of the Audit Court. The CSCCA had issued three reports in January 2019, May 2019, and August 2020 citing improper management practices by the Haitian government and the alleged wastage of nearly $2 billion of the Petrocaribe funds. Public anger over the Petrocaribe scandal has since burgeoned into a grassroots movement against widespread corruption in Haiti.

The CSCCA publicly calls on Haitian authorities to take measures to influence public expenditure by implementing monitoring and evaluation and consolidating investment expenditure to better assess the effectiveness of public spending. For nearly a decade, the Haitian state has faced a structural deficit in the management of its public resources. Despite many efforts undertaken to improve fiscal performance, the Haitian State is still in a situation of insufficient resources to respond to the pressures exerted on public spending.

Haiti is not a party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Honduras

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of the importance of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) is growing among both producers and consumers in Honduras. An increasing number of local and foreign companies operating in Honduras include conduct-related responsibility practices in their business strategies. The Honduran Corporate Social Responsibility Foundation (FUNDAHRSE) has become a strong proponent in its efforts to promote transparency in the business climate and provides the Honduran private sector, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses, with the skills to engage in responsible business practices. FUNDAHRSE’s approximately 110 members can apply for the foundation’s “Corporate Social Responsibility Enterprise” seal for exemplary responsible business conduct involving work in areas related to health, education, environment, codes of ethics, employment relations, and responsible marketing.

RBC related to the environment and outreach to local communities is especially important to the success of investment projects in Honduras. Several major foreign investment projects in Honduras have stalled due to concerns about environmental impact, land rights issues, lack of transparency, and problematic consultative processes with local communities, particularly indigenous communities. Although the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples was ratified by the GOH in 1995 and Honduras voted in favor of UN’s Indigenous People’s rights in 2007, there is still much to do in the area. There is still a need for foreign investors to build trust with local communities, while employing international best practices and standards to reduce the risk of conflict and promote sustainable and equitable development.

Examples of international best practices include the following:

Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative

The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

9. Corruption

In February 2022, President Castro fulfilled her campaign promise to request support from the UN for an international anti-corruption commission (CICIH).  A UN Technical Assistance Mission visited Honduras in May 2022 to begin work on the request.  The commission would continue the work started by the OAS Mission Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) which left Honduras in 2020 after the former administration failed to renew its mandate. Though details are still under discussion, the commission would likely fill an investigative and prosecutorial role similar to MACCIH. Its mandate would likely extend beyond the current administration.  Several risks remain; notably, a broad amnesty law passed in February 2022 that would prevent the commission from investigating a significant number of cases, and unclear financing for the commission.

U.S. businesses and citizens report corruption in the public sector and the judiciary is a significant constraint to investment in Honduras.  Historically, corruption has been pervasive in government procurement, issuance of government permits, customs, real estate transactions (particularly land title transfers), performance requirements, and the regulatory system.  Civil society groups are critical of recent legislation granting qualified immunity to government officials and a 2019 law that gave the highly politicized government audit agency a first look at corruption cases.  Congress repealed the latter in 2022.  In 2018, Congress passed a revision of the 1984 penal code that lowered penalties for some corruption offenses. The new code went into effect in June 2020 and was retroactively applied to several high-profile corruption cases resulting in a spate of dismissals and retrials.  In late 2020, the GOH created a new Ministry of Transparency to act as the government’s lead institution in coordinating and implementing efforts to promote transparency and integrity and prevent government corruption. The Castro government further institutionalized the ministry’s anti-corruption mandate, naming it the Ministry of Transparency and the Fight against Corruption. The Castro administration’s Government by Results initiative should pay off in decreased vulnerability to corruption, and the ministers of Health and Economic Development both signed cooperation agreements with the country’s Anticorruption Council.

Honduras’s Rankings on Key Corruption Indicators:

Measure Year Index/Ranking
TI Corruption Index 2021 23/100, 157 of 180
MCC Government Effectiveness FY 2022 -0.12 (35 percent)
MCC Rule of Law FY 2022 -0.42 (10 percent)
MCC Control of Corruption FY 2022 -0.40 (16 percent)

The United States Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) deems it unlawful for a U.S. person, and certain foreign issuers of securities to make corrupt payments to foreign public officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business for directing business to any person. The FCPA also applies to foreign firms and persons who take any act in furtherance of such a corrupt payment while in the United States. For more information, see the FCPA Lay-Person’s Guide:  http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/  .

Honduras ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in December 2005. The UN Convention requires countries to establish criminal penalties for a wide range of acts of corruption. The UN Convention covers a broad range of issues from basic forms of corruption such as bribery and solicitation, embezzlement, trading in influence, and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption. The UN Convention contains transnational business bribery provisions that are functionally similar to those in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Anti-Bribery Convention.

Honduras ratified the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (OAS Convention) in1998. The OAS Convention establishes a set of preventive measures against corruption; provides for the criminalization of certain acts of corruption, including transnational bribery and illicit enrichment; and contains a series of provisions to strengthen the cooperation between its states’ parties in areas such as mutual legal assistance and technical cooperation.

Hong Kong

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange adopts a higher standard of disclosure – ‘comply or explain’ – about its environmental key performance indicators for listed companies. Results of a consultation process to review its ESG reporting guidelines indicate strong support for enhancing the ESG reporting framework. It has implemented proposals from the consultation process since July 2020. Hong Kong is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. Under the Security Bureau, the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority is responsible for formulating issuing criteria and conditions for security company licenses and security personnel permits and determining applications for security company licenses.

9. Corruption

Mainland China ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in January 2006, and it was extended to Hong Kong in February 2006. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is responsible for combating corruption and has helped Hong Kong develop a track record for combating corruption. U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI. A bribe to a foreign official is a criminal act, as is the giving or accepting of bribes, for both private individuals and government employees. Offenses are punishable by imprisonment and large fines.

The Hong Kong Ethics Development Center (HKEDC), established by the ICAC, promotes business and professional ethics to sustain a level-playing field in Hong Kong. The International Good Practice Guidance – Defining and Developing an Effective Code of Conduct for Organizations of the Professional Accountants in Business Committee published by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and is in use with the permission of IFAC.

Hungary

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Hungary encourages multinational firms to follow the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which promotes a due diligence approach to responsible business conduct (RBC).  The government has established a National Contact Point (NCP) in the Ministry of Finance for stakeholders to obtain information or raise concerns in the context of RBC. The Hungarian NCP has organized events to promote OECD guidelines among the business community, trade unions, government agencies, and NGOs.  Members of the Hungarian NCP include representatives of the Ministries of Finance, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Innovation and Technology, and Agriculture. The Hungarian NCP submits annual reports to the OECD Investment Commission, except for 2020 when its activity was strongly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, see:   http://oecd.kormany.hu/a-magyar-nemzeti-kapcsolattarto-pont  .

In recent years, the Hungarian NCP has organized several conferences, the last one in January 2020, to promote RBC and OECD guidelines. It announced in 2017 its intention to formulate a new National Action Plan on Businesses and Human Rights.  According to the first National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Action Plan formulated in 2015, key RBC priorities of the GOH included the employment of discriminated, disadvantaged, and disabled groups, environmental protection, and the expansion of sustainable economy.  Hungary’s NCP peer review is scheduled in 2023. The Hungarian Public Relations Association, CSR Hungary, and other NGOs are involved in elaborating the second National Action Plan. The Hungarian NCP reviews complaints from trade unions against multinational companies’ subsidiaries operating in Hungary and coordinates with relevant NPCs of the multinational company’s home country. RBC does not typically play a role in GOH procurement decisions, although the 2015 Public Procurement Act integrates concepts of CSR, responsible business conduct, and good practice.

Several NGOs and business associations promote RBC and CSR.  The one with the most members, CSR Hungary Forum, created in 2006, established an annual award and trademark in 2008 to recognize business CSR efforts; others include the Hungarian Public Relations Association, “Kovet.”

According to a 2018 survey conducted by CSR Hungary, 60 percent of businesses have a CSR policy and 44 percent of businesses attribute a CSR orientation to increased competitiveness.  However, only about 34 percent of multinational and SOEs and 9 percent of SMEs report formally formulating a CSR action plan. According to a 2021 study on corporate social responsibility in Hungary, stakeholder pressure is weak, and they expect increased state-level intervention in CSR issues.

In 2017, Hungary’s independent agencies for labor rights protection, consumer protection, cultural heritage protection, and environment protection were merged into relevant ministries and county-level government offices.  Environmental NGOs criticized the transformation of the system and warned about the lack of independent agencies.

Climate Issues

In January 2020, the GOH approved and published its new long-term energy strategy and an EU-required National Energy and Climate Plan – both of which focused heavily on decarbonization and sustainable climate policy. According to the documents, Hungary aims to reduce its carbon emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030 (compared to the 1990 level), an additional 10 percent by 2040, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.  Given that Hungary emits 33 percent less CO2 than it did in 1990, the real cut would be seven percent in the next eight years and 17 percent in the next 20 years. The seven percent cut would be easily achieved with the phase-out of the lignite coal fired Matra Power Plant by 2025. Experts have noted that the plan to have Hungary cut the remaining 50 percent (to achieve carbon neutrality) in the 2040-2050 period is an ambitious goal. Although in December 2020, the GOH committed itself to the new EU goal (“Fit for 55”) of reducing carbon emissions by 55 percent by 2030, the details of achieving the more ambitious goal are to be worked out. The GOH estimates the total costs of Hungary achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at $145 billion.

Private sector contributions to reach the climate goals include increasing Hungary’s solar power capacity from the currently available more than 2000 MW to 6000 MW by 2030 and to 10,000 MW by 2040. In energy efficiency, the GOH’s aim is to limit Hungary’s total final energy demand on the 2005 level by 2030. To reach this goal, the GOH introduced a tax incentive for businesses investing into energy efficiency. Although the GOH strategies stress the great potential in decreasing the energy demand of households, so far there have been only limited efforts.

Despite the February 2021 ruling of the European Court of Justice saying that Hungary had “systematically and persistently” breached legal limits on air pollution, the GOH still has failed to take any efficient measures to deal with the problem. Although the GOH maintains an extensive system of national parks and nature reserves, there are no other government policies, or regulatory incentives helping to preserve biodiversity. The second National Climate Change Strategy adopted in 2018 contains the National Adaptation Strategy which is based on the climate vulnerability assessment of ecosystem and industrial sectors.

Although Hungary’s Public Procurement Act of 2015 allows the government to consider environmental and green growth aspects, the GOH has not yet issued a decree governing the detailed rules of green procurements. Hungary is one of the five EU member states without a national action plan on green public procurements according to the State Audit Office. In April 2021, Hungary’s Public Procurement Authority launched a sustainability working group and in September 2021 issued a Green Codex to provide some guidelines on green procurements.

9. Corruption

The Hungarian Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior are responsible for combating corruption.  Although a legal framework exists to support their efforts, critics have asserted that the government has done little to combat grand corruption and rarely investigates cases involving politically connected individuals, even when recommended to do so by the European Antifraud Office (OLAF). Hungary is a party to the UN Anticorruption Convention and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and has incorporated their provisions into the penal code, as well as subsequent OECD and EU requirements on the prevention of bribery.  Parliament passed the Strasbourg Criminal Law Convention on Corruption of 2002 and the Strasbourg Civil Code Convention on Corruption of 2004. Hungary is a member of GRECO (Group of States against Corruption), an organization established by members of Council of Europe to monitor the observance of their standards for fighting corruption.  GRECO’s reports on evaluation and compliance are confidential unless the Member State authorizes the publication of its report.  For several years, the GOH has kept confidential GRECO’s most recent compliance reports on prevention of corruption with respect to members of parliament, judges, and prosecutors, and a report on transparency of party financing.

Following calls from the opposition, NGOs, and other GRECO Member States, and a March 2019 visit by senior GRECO officials to Budapest, the GOH agreed to publish the reports in August 2019. The reports revealed that Hungary failed to meet 13 out of 18 recommendations issued by GRECO in 2015; assessed that Hungary’s level of compliance with the recommendations was “globally unsatisfactory,” and concluded that the country would therefore remain subject to GRECO’s non-compliance procedure. The compliance report on transparency of party financing noted some progress but added that “the overall picture is disappointing.” A November 2020 GRECO report came to the same conclusion, adding that Hungary had made no progress since the prior year on implementing anticorruption recommendations for MPs, judges, and prosecutors.

In December 2016, the GOH withdrew its membership in the international anti-corruption organization the Open Government Partnership (OGP).  Following a letter of concern by transparency watchdogs to OGP’s Steering Committee in summer 2015, OGP launched an investigation into Hungary and issued a critical report.  The OGP admonished the GOH for its harassment of NGOs and urged it to take steps to restore transparency and to ensure a positive operating environment for civil society. The GOH, only the second Member State to be reprimanded by the organization, rejected the OGP report conclusions and withdrew from the organization.

In recent years, the GOH has amplified its attacks on NGOs including transparency watchdogs, accusing them of acting as foreign agents and criticizing them for allegedly working against Hungarian interests.  Observers assess that this anti-NGO rhetoric endangered the continued operation of anti-corruption NGOs crucial to promoting transparency and good governance in Hungary. In 2017 and 2018, Parliament passed legislations that many civil society activists criticized for placing undue restrictions on NGOs. In its June 2018 and November 2021 rulings, the European Court of Justice found both legislations in conflict with EU law.

Transparency International (TI) is active in Hungary.  TI’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index rated Hungary 73 out of 180 countries.  Out of the 27 EU member states, Hungary ranked 26th, outperforming only Bulgaria. TI has noted that state institutions responsible for supervising public organizations were headed by people loyal to the ruling party, limiting their ability to serve as a check on the actions of the GOH.  TI and other watchdogs note that data on public spending remains difficult to access since the GOH amended the Act on Freedom of Information in 2013 and 2015. Moreover, according to watchdogs and investigative journalists, the GOH, state agencies, and SOEs are increasingly reluctant to answer questions related to public spending, resulting in lengthy court procedures to receive answers to questions.  Even if the court orders the release of data, by the time it happens, the data has lost significance and has a weaker impact, watchdogs warn. In some cases, even when ordered to provide information, state agencies and SOEs release data in nearly unusable or undecipherable formats.

U.S. firms – along with other investors – identify corruption as a significant problem in Hungary.  According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Competitiveness Report, businesses considered corruption as the second most important obstacle to making a successful business in Hungary.

State corruption is also high on the list of EC concerns with Hungary.  The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has found high levels of fraud in EU-funded projects in Hungary and has levied fines and withheld development funds on several occasions.  Over the past few years, the EC has suspended payments of EU funds several times due to irregularities in Hungary’s procurement system.

TI and other anti-corruption watchdogs have highlighted EU-funded development projects as the largest source of corruption in Hungary.  A TI study found indications of corruption and overpricing in up to 90 percent of EU-funded projects. Reports by Corruption Research Center (CRCB) from April and May 2020 found – after analyzing more than 240,000 public procurement contracts from 2005-2020 – that companies owned by individuals with links to senior government officials enjoy preferential treatment in public tenders and face less competition than other companies. The studies also revealed that the share of single-bidder public procurement contracts was over 40 percent in 2020, and that the corruption risk reached its highest level since 2005. In a March 2022 report CRCB found that in the 2011-2021 period, more than 20 percent of the EU-funded public contracts were won by 42 companies owned by 12 entrepreneurs closely affiliated with the government. In 2020, a year which was particularly difficult for many businesses because of the Covid-crisis, this small group of entrepreneurs won almost one-third of the EU-funded public tenders.

Hungary has legislation in place to combat corruption.  Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal offense, as is an official’s failure to report such an incident.  Penalties can include confiscation of assets, imprisonment, or both. Since Hungary’s entry into the EU, legal entities can also be prosecuted.  Legislation prohibits members of parliament from serving as executives of state-owned enterprises. An extensive list of public officials and many of their family members are required to make annual declarations of assets, but there is no specified penalty for making an incomplete or inaccurate declaration.  It is common for prominent politicians to be forced to amend declarations of assets following revelations in the press of omission of ownership or part-ownership of real estate and other assets in asset declarations. Politicians are not penalized for these omissions.

Transparency advocates claim that Hungarian law enforcement authorities are often reluctant to prosecute cases with links to high-level politicians.  For example, they reported that, in November 2018, Hungarian authorities dropped the investigation into $50 million in EU-funded public lighting tenders won by a firm co-owned by a relative of the prime minister, despite concerns raised by OLAF about evidence of conflict of interest and irregularities involving the deal. According to media reports, OLAF concluded that several of the tenders were won due to what it considered organized criminal activity. In December 2021, the Prosecutor General’s Office charged a senior government politician for accepting bribes to influence cases at the request of the president of the Court Bailiff Chamber. The senior government official resigned immediately but kept his position as an MP and was left at large for the time of the investigation.

Annual asset declarations for the family members of public officials are not public and only parliamentary committees can investigate them if there is a specified suspicion of fraud.  Transparency watchdogs warn that this makes the system of asset declarations inefficient and easy to circumvent as politicians can hide assets and revenues in their family members’ names.

The Public Procurement Act of 2015 initially included broad conflict of interest rules on excluding family members of GOH officials from participating in public tenders, but Parliament later amended the law to exclude only family members living in the same household.  While considered in line with the overarching EU directive, the law still leaves room for subjective evaluations of bid proposals and tender specifications to be tailored to favored companies.

While public procurement legislation is in place and complies with EU requirements, private companies and watchdog NGOs expressed concerns about pervasive corruption and favoritism in public procurements in Hungary.  According to their criticism, public procurements in practice lack transparency and accountability and are characterized by uneven implementation of anti-corruption laws.  Additionally, transparency NGOs calculate that government-allied firms have won a disproportionate percentage of public procurement awards.  The business community and foreign governments share many of these concerns.  Multinational firms have complained that competing in public procurements presents unacceptable levels of corruption and compliance risk.  A 2019 European Commission study found that Hungary had the second-highest rate (40 percent) of one-bidder EU funded procurement contracts in the European Union.  In addition, observers have raised concerns about the appointments of Fidesz party loyalists to head quasi-independent institutions such as the Competition Authority, the Media Council, and the State Audit Office. Because it is generally understood that companies without political connections are unlikely to win public procurement contracts, many firms lacking such connections do not bid or compete against politically connected companies.

The GOH does not require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct.

Generally, larger private companies and multinationals operating in Hungary have internal codes of ethics, compliance programs, or other controls, but their efficacy is not uniform.

Resources to Report Corruption

GOH Office Responsible for Combatting Corruption:

National Protective Service
General Director Zoltan Bolcsik
Phone: +36 1 433 9711
Fax: +36 1 433 9751
E-mail: nvsz@nvsz.police.hu  

Transparency International Hungary
1055 Budapest
Falk Miksa utca 30. 4/2
Phone: +36 1 269 9534
Fax: +36 1 269 9535
E-mail: info@transparency.hu  

Iceland

8. Responsible Business Conduct

As an OECD member, Iceland adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The Ministry for Culture and Business Affairs houses Iceland’s National Contact Point for the Guidelines, charged with promoting the due diligence approach of the Guidelines to the business community and to facilitate the resolution of any disputes arising in the context of the Guidelines ( https://www.stjornarradid.is/verkefni/atvinnuvegir/vidskipti/almenn-vidskiptamal/ ).

Business Iceland (formerly Promote Iceland), which is a public-private agency responsible for promoting Iceland’s export sectors abroad, has signed the United Nations’ Global Compact (GC) and raises awareness of corporate social responsibility in Iceland. Festa, a non-profit organization which promotes sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, has over 120 associated members, including some of Iceland’s largest companies, public organizations, universities, and municipalities ( www.samfelagsabyrgd.is/festa ). Gagnsaei, an NGO affiliated with Transparency International, is active in Iceland and is a voice against corruption ( www.transparency.is ). There is a general awareness of corporate social responsibility among producers, companies, and consumers.

There was a high-profile case in 2018 and 2019 surrounding a private employment agency which has now been declared bankrupt, that allegedly mistreated migrant Romanian workers by failing to pay salaries and provide housing as per agreement. This case caused outrage in Iceland and many union and workers’ association leaders voiced their concerns in the media and stated that mistreatment of workers would not be tolerated. The Directorate of Labor fined the company in 2019 for failing to register workers adequately.

As an OECD member state, Iceland adheres to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance recommendations to help companies respect human rights and avoid contributing to conflict through their mineral purchasing decisions and practices. The Icelandic economy does not have a mining industry, other than extracting rocks and gravel for construction purposes. In 2013, former Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson issued a joint statement with the other Nordic Prime Ministers to reaffirm their support to the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI).

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Isolated cases of corruption have been known to occur but are not an obstacle to foreign investment in Iceland or a recognized issue of concern in the government. In 2021 Iceland ranked 13 out of 180 economies on the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Iceland has signed the UN Convention against Corruption. Iceland is a member of the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

The Council of Europe body Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) published its fifth evaluation report on Iceland on April 12, 2018. GRECO found that Iceland had no dedicated government-wide policy plan on anti-corruption and that its agency and institution-specific codes of conduct were not sufficiently detailed and were often implemented in an ad hoc manner. For more information, see the GRECO report ( https://rm.coe.int/fifth-evaluation-round-preventing-corruption-and-promoting-integrity-i/16807b8218 ). The Icelandic Parliament introduced a new law in 2020 on measures against conflict of interests for ministers, assistance to ministers, director generals at ministries, and ambassadors, concerning receiving gifts, additional job positions, and supervision of the aforementioned law.

In the wake of the financial collapse in Iceland in 2008, a Code of Conduct for Staff in the Government Offices of Iceland was established in 2012, “with the purpose of promoting professional methods and of confidence in public administration.” The code of conduct addresses workplace relations and procedures; behavior and conduct; conflicts of interest and shared interests; communication with the media, public and surveillance bodies; and responsibility and monitoring for Government Offices staff. For more information see the Government of Iceland’s website ( https://www.government.is/ministries/prime-ministers-office/code-of-conduct-for-staff/ ). The code does not extend to family members of officials or political parties.

India

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Among Indian companies there is a general awareness of standards for responsible business conduct. The MCA administers the Companies Act of 2013 and is responsible for regulating the corporate sector in accordance with the law. The MCA is also responsible for protecting the interests of consumers by ensuring competitive markets. The Companies Act of 2013 also established the framework for India’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) laws, mandating that companies spend an average of two percent of their average net profit of the preceding three fiscal years. While the CSR obligations are mandated by law, non-government organizations (NGOs) in India also track CSR activities and provide recommendations in some cases for effective use of CSR funds. According to the MCA website, in FY 2020-21, 8,633 companies spent $2.72 billion on more than 25,000 CSR projects across India.

The MCA released the National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct, 2018 (NGRBC) on March 13, 2019, to improve the 2011 National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental & Economic Responsibilities of Business. The NGRBC aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights (UNGPs).

India does not adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. There are provisions to promote responsible business conduct throughout the supply chain.

India is neither a member of Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), nor a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

9. Corruption

India is a signatory to the United Nation’s Conventions Against Corruption and is a member of the G20 Working Group against corruption. India, with a score of 40, ranked 86 among 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index.

Corruption is addressed by the following laws: The Companies Act, 2013; the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002; the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988; the Code of Criminal Procedures, 1973; the Indian Contract Act, 1872; and the Indian Penal Code of 1860. Anti- corruption laws amended since 2004 have granted additional powers to vigilance departments in government ministries at the central and state levels and elevated the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to be a statutory body. In addition, the Comptroller and Auditor General is charged with performing audits on public-private-partnership contracts in the infrastructure sector based on allegations of revenue loss to the exchequer.

Other statutes approved by parliament to tackle corruption include:

The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act of 2016

The Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016, enacted in 2017

The Whistleblower Protection Act, 2011 was passed in 2014 but has yet to be operationalized

The Companies Act, 2013 established rules related to corruption in the private sector by mandating mechanisms for the protection of whistleblowers, industry codes of conduct, and the appointment of independent directors to company boards. However, the government has not established any monitoring mechanism, and it is unclear the extent to which these protections have been instituted. No legislation focuses particularly on the protection of NGOs working on corruption issues, though the Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011 may afford some protection once implemented.

In 2013, Parliament enacted the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, which created a national anti- corruption ombudsman and required states to create state-level ombudsmen within one year of the law’s passage. A national ombudsman was appointed in March 2019.

Indonesia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Indonesian businesses are required to undertake responsible business conduct (RBC) activities under Law No. 40/2007 concerning Limited Liability Companies. In addition, sectoral laws and regulations have further specific provisions on RBC. Indonesian companies tend to focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs offering community and economic development, and educational projects and programs. This is at least in part caused by the fact that such projects are often required as part of the environmental impact permits (AMDAL) of resource extraction companies, and those companies face domestic and international scrutiny of their operations. Because a large proportion of resource extraction activity occurs in remote and rural areas where government services are reported to be limited or absent, these companies face very high community expectations to provide such services themselves. Despite significant investments – especially by large multinational firms – in CSR projects, businesses have noted that there is limited general awareness of those projects, even among government regulators and officials. Yet, lack of regulations, oversight and enforcement measures deter stakeholders’ from more consistently adhering to environment, social, and governance standards (ESG).

The government does not have an overarching strategy to encourage or enforce RBC but regulates each area through the relevant laws (environment, labor, corruption, etc.). Some companies report that these laws are not always enforced evenly. In 2017, the National Commission on Human Rights launched a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in Indonesia, based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

OJK regulates corporate governance issues, but the regulations and enforcement are not yet up to international standards for shareholder protection.

Indonesia does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the government is not known to have encouraged adherence to those guidelines. Many companies claim that the government does not encourage adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas or any other supply chain management due diligence guidance. Indonesia is an active member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). As part of EITI requirement, payment made to governments in the extractive industries are disclosed through a system database managed by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) as it continues to improve data and information transparency.

9. Corruption

President Jokowi was elected on a strong good-governance platform, but his performance on this remains inconsistent. Corruption remains a serious problem in the view of many, including some U.S. companies. The Indonesian government has issued detailed directions on combating corruption in targeted ministries and agencies, and the 2018 release of the updated and streamlined National Anti-Corruption Strategy mandates corruption prevention efforts across the government in three focus areas (licenses, state finances, and law enforcement reform). The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) was established in 2002 as the lead government agency to investigate and prosecute corruption. KPK is one of the most trusted and respected institutions in Indonesia. The KPK has taken steps to encourage companies to establish effective internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of public officials. By law, the KPK is authorized to conduct investigations, file indictments, and prosecute corruption cases involving law enforcement officers, government executives, or other parties connected to corrupt acts committed by those entities; attracting the “attention and the dismay” of the general public; and/or involving a loss to the state of at least IDR 1 billion (approximately USD 66,000). The government began prosecuting companies that engage in public corruption under new corporate criminal liability guidance issued in a 2016 Supreme Court regulation, with the first conviction of a corporate entity in January 2019. Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act, with possible fines ranging from USD 3,850 to USD 77,000 and imprisonment up to a maximum of 20 years to life, depending on the severity of the charge. Presidential decree No. 13/2018 issued in March 2018 clarifies the definition of beneficial ownership and outlines annual reporting requirements and sanctions for non-compliance.

Indonesia’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2021 rose to 96 out of 180 countries surveyed, compared to 102 out of 180 countries in 2020. Indonesia’s score of public corruption in the country, according to Transparency International, rose to 38 in 2020 from 37 in 2020 (scale of 0/very corrupt to 100/very clean). Indonesia ranks below neighboring Timor Leste, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Corruption reportedly remains pervasive despite laws to combat it.  In September 2019, the Indonesia House of Representatives (DPR) passed Law No. 19/2019 on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which revised the KPK’s original charter, reducing the Commission’s independence and limiting its ability to pursue corruption investigations without political interference. The current KPK Commissioner has stated that KPK’s main role will no longer be prosecution, but education and prevention. Although there have been some notable successful prosecutions including against members of the President’s cabinet, the 2019 changes to the KPK have led to a significant decline in investigations and prosecutions.

Indonesia ratified the UN Convention against Corruption in September 2006. However, Indonesia is not yet compliant with key components of the convention, including provisions on foreign bribery. Indonesia has not yet acceded to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention but attends meetings of the OECD Anti-Corruption Working Group. Several civil society organizations function as vocal and competent corruption watchdogs, including Transparency International Indonesia and Indonesia Corruption Watch.

Resources to Report Corruption

Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Anti-Corruption Commission)
Jln. Kuningan Persada Kav 4, SetiabudiJakarta Selatan 12950
Email:  informasi@kpk.go.id 

Indonesia Corruption Watch
Jl. Kalibata Timur IV/D
No. 6 Jakarta Selatan 12740
Tel: +6221.7901885 or +6221.7994015
Email:  info@antikorupsi.org 

Iraq

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The international oil companies active in Iraq are required to observe international best practices in corporate social responsibility (CSR) as part of their contracts with the GOI.  Nevertheless, the GOI does not have policies in place to promote Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) and raise awareness of environmental and social issues among investors.  The concept of RBC is not widely recognized in Iraq.

Investors are required to protect the environment and adhere to quality control systems.  These include soil testing requirements on the land designated for the project as well as conducting an environmental impact study.  In practice, the GOI lacks a mechanism to enforce environmental protection laws and implementation is limited.

Iraq became a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2009.  The GOI established a 15-person committee to work on EITI, including several directors general within the Ministry of Oil (MOO), four representatives from NGOs, and oil company executives.  The committee provided required reports through 2013. In November 2017, the EITI Board suspended Iraq’s membership for lack of progress.

9. Corruption

Iraq ranked 157 out of 180 in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, a slight improvement from its ranking of 160 in 2020.  Public corruption is a major obstacle to economic development and political stability.  Corruption is pervasive in government procurement, in the awarding of licenses or concessions, dispute settlement, and customs imports and exports.

While large-scale investment opportunities exist in Iraq, public and private corruption remain a significant impediment to conducting business.  Foreign investors can expect to contend with corruption in many forms, at all levels.  While the GOI is trying to reduce procurement corruption in sectors such as electricity, oil, and gas, credible reports of corruption in government procurement are widespread, with examples ranging from bribery and kickbacks to awards involving companies connected to political leaders.  Investors may come under pressure to take on well-connected local partners to avoid systemic bureaucratic hurdles to doing business.  Similarly, there are credible reports of corruption involving large-scale problems with government payrolls, ranging from “ghost” employees and salary skimming to nepotism and patronage in personnel decisions.

Importing and exporting goods remains difficult, and bribery of or extortion by port officials is commonplace. Iraq ranked 181 out of 190 countries in the category of “Trading Across Borders” in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report.

U.S. firms frequently identify corruption resulting from Iraq’s opaque business regulatory environment as a significant obstacle to FDI, particularly in government contracts and procurement, as well as performance requirements and performance bonds.  U.S. companies are obligated to follow U.S. laws such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Several institutions have specific mandates to address corruption in Iraq.  The Commission of Integrity (COI), initially established under the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), is an independent government agency responsible for pursuing anti-corruption investigations, upholding the enforcement of laws, and preventing crime.  The COI investigates government corruption allegations and refers completed cases to the Iraqi judiciary.

After an unsuccessful Inspector General program, the GOI attempted several anti-corruption initiatives from 2004-2022.  However, anti-corruption oversight remains with the Board of Supreme Audit (BSA), established in 1927.  BSA is an analogue to the U.S. government’s General Accountability Office.  It is a financially and administratively independent body that derives its authority from Law 31 of 2011, the Law of the Board of Supreme Audit.  It is charged with fiscal and regulatory oversight of all publicly funded bodies in Iraq and auditing all federal revenues, including any revenues received from the IKR.

The Kurdistan Board of Supreme Audit is responsible for auditing regional revenues with IKP and GOI oversight.  The IKP established a regional Commission of increasing its jurisdiction in 2014 to include other branches of the KRG and money laundering.  In 2021, the IKP ordered the establishment of a Kurdistan Anti-Corruption Court.  However, the KRG has not implemented the order, which falls to the Judicial Council.

Iraq is a party but not a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention.  Iraq is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Ireland

8. Responsible Business Conduct

A growing awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Ireland is mainly driven by independent organizations and multinational corporations. According to “Business in the Community–Ireland,” an organization at the forefront of promoting CSR in Ireland, many of the participant firms believe CSR-oriented policies can play a major role in rebuilding Ireland’s corporate reputation. Companies advertise their participation in such programs as the Fairtrade Certification Mark. The American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland has also released its own report documenting the widespread CSR efforts of American affiliate firms in the country.

The government promotes responsible business conduct in Ireland. Its national action plan “Towards Responsible Business – Ireland’s National Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility 2017- 2020″ aims to support businesses in Ireland to create sustainable jobs; embed responsible practices in the marketplace; embrace diversity and promote responsible workplaces; and encourage enterprises to consider their businesses’ impacts on the environment. It gives effect to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and sets out the Irish government’s commitments to promoting responsible business practice at home and overseas. DETE maintains a web page www.csrhub.ie  for information on all aspects of CSR in Ireland.

Ireland, as an adherent to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, established a National Contact Point (NCP) responsible for promoting CSR/RBC and facilitating mediation when complaints arise regarding a company not observing the Guidelines. Contact information for the NCP is: https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Trade-Investment/OECD-Guidelines-NCP/ 

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

In November 2021, the government released its Climate Action Plan which detailed the actions required to achieve a 51 percent emissions reduction target by 2030 and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, as set out in the Climate Act 2021. The plan will be updated annually to ensure alignment with Ireland’s legally binding economy-wide carbon budgets and sectoral ceilings.  The Climate Action Plan lays out sector specific targets to achieve these goals, with the largest reduction slated to come from the energy sector (62-81 percent reduction).  Some of the actions outlined in the action plan to meet the energy decarbonization targets include a review of policy for large energy users, such as data centers, incentivizing demand side flexibility, and developing supportive policies for wind, solar, and micro generation.

Security of energy supply continues to be an issue in Ireland which has been further complicated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ireland is highly dependent on imports of oil and natural gas. While renewable energy, mainly from onshore wind turbines, is growing, Ireland must still import gas, through interconnectors from the UK. Eirgrid, the national grid operator, said Ireland could face electricity shortages over the next five winters unless base load production (from gas or coal) is increased to ensure that intermittent supply from renewables is supplemented.

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and the IDA have highlighted the importance of Ireland’s green credentials and climate improvement plans in attracting future investment from international financial services firms.  The IDA said Ireland aims to be a global leader in the area of green or sustainable finance.  Taoiseach Micheál Martin said sustainable finance remains “a top priority” within the government’s financial services agenda, and Ireland was “uniquely positioned” to benefit from significant global investment in fintech due to the country’s track record for foreign direct investment, entrepreneurial culture and existing number of international financial services firms.

9. Corruption

Corruption is not a serious problem for foreign investors in Ireland. The principal Irish legislation relating to anti-bribery and corruption is the Criminal Justice (Corruption Offences) Act of 2018. The Act consolidates all previous legislation for the prevention of corruption. The legislation makes it illegal for Irish public servants to accept bribes. The Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995, provides for the written annual disclosure of interests of people holding public office or employment.

The law on corruption in Ireland gives effect in domestic law to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and other conventions concerning criminal corruption and corruption involving officials of the European Union and officials of EU member states. Irish legislation ensures there are strong penalties in place with prison terms of up to ten years and an ‘unlimited’ fine, for those found guilty of offenses under the Act, including convictions of bribery of foreign public officials by Irish nationals and companies that takes place outside of Ireland.

Irish police (An Garda Siochana, or Garda) investigate all allegations of corruption. The Director of Public Prosecutions is responsible for preparing files for prosecution, on detection of sufficient evidence of criminal activity. The government has, in the past, convicted a small number of public officials for corruption and/or bribery. In 1996, Ireland established the Criminal Asset Bureau (CAB), an independent body responsible for seizing illegally acquired assets. CAB has the powers to focus on the illegally acquired assets of criminals involved in organized crime by identifying criminally acquired assets of persons and taking the appropriate action to deny such people of these assets. Any CAB action is primarily taken through the application of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 1996 legislation. Ireland is a member of the Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network (CARIN).

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Ireland signed the UN Convention on Corruption in December 2003 and ratified it in 2011. Ireland is also a participating member of the OECD Working Group on Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption
Government agency responsible for combating corruption:

Department of Justice and Equality, Crime and Security Directorate
94 St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2
Telephone: + 353 1 602-8202
E-mail: info@justice.ie 
Website: www.justice.ie 

Contact at Transparency International:

John Devitt
Chief Executive

Transparency International
Floor 2
69 Middle Abbey St
Dublin 2
Telephone: +353 1 554 3938
E-mail: Admin@transparency.ie 

 

Israel

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is awareness of responsible business conduct among enterprises and civil society in Israel. Israel adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Israel is not a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.

Israel’s National Contact Point sits in the Responsible Business Conduct unit in the OECD Department of the Foreign Trade Administration in the Ministry of Economy and Industry. An advisory committee, including representatives from the Ministries of Economy, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice, and the Environment, assist the National Contact Point. The National Contact Point also works in cooperation with the Manufacturer’s Association of Israel, workers’ organizations, and civil society to promote awareness of the guidelines.

Israel is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies. One Israeli company, RS Logistical Solutions Ltd, is a member of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

Bribery and other forms of corruption are illegal under several Israeli laws and Civil Service regulations. Israel is a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Israel ranks 36 out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, dropping one place from its 2020 ranking. Several Israeli NGOs focus on public sector ethics in Israel and Transparency International has a local chapter.

The Israeli National Police, state comptroller, Attorney General, and Accountant General are responsible for combating official corruption. These entities operate effectively and independently and are sufficiently resourced. NGOs that focus on anticorruption efforts operate freely without government interference.

Italy

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a general awareness of expectations and standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) in Italy. Enforcement of civil society disputes with businesses is generally fair, though the slow pace of civil justice may delay individuals’ ability to seek effective redress for adverse business impacts. In addition, EU laws and standards on RBC apply in Italy. In the event Italian courts fail to protect an individual’s rights under EU law, it is possible to seek redress at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

CONSOB has enacted corporate governance, accounting, and executive compensation standards to protect shareholders. Information on corporate governance standards is available at: https://www.consob.it/c/portal/layout?p_l_id=892052&p_v_l_s_g_id=0

As an OECD member, Italy supports and promotes the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“Guidelines”), which are recommendations by governments to multinational enterprises for conducting a risk-based due diligence approach to achieve responsible business conduct (RBC). The Guidelines provide voluntary principles and standards in a variety of areas including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, competition, consumer protection, taxation, and science and technology. (See OECD Guidelines: http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/12/21/1903291.pdf ). The Italian National Contact Point (NCP) for the Guidelines is in the Ministry of Economic Development. The NCP promotes the Guidelines; disseminates related information; and encourages collaboration among national and international institutions, the business community, and civil society. The NCP also promotes Italy’s National Action Plan on Corporate Social Responsibility which is available online. See Italian NCP: http://pcnitalia.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it/en /.

Independent NGOs and unions operate freely in Italy. Additionally, Italy’s three largest trade union confederations actively promote and monitor RBC. They serve on the advisory body to Italy’s NCP for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Italy encourages adherence to OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas and has provided operational guidelines for Italian businesses to assist them in supply chain due diligence. Italy is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs works internationally to promote the adoption of best practices.

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Jamaica

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) among many Jamaican companies is a developing practice, with more established companies further along the scale.  In 2013, the government provided additional financial incentives for corporations to support charity work through the Charities Act, under which corporations and individuals can claim a tax deduction on contributions made to registered charitable organizations.  Some large publicly listed companies and multinational corporations in Jamaica maintain their own foundations that carry out social and community projects to support education, youth employment, and entrepreneurship.  

In 2018, the GOJ became party to the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Multilateral Convention, which updates the network of bilateral tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.  GOJ also became signatory to the Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, effective March 1, 2019, having deposited instruments of ratification in November 2018.  

Recent years have seen increased disputes over bauxite mining rights in Jamaica’s Cockpit Country, an area inhabited by the semi-autonomous Maroon population.  In January 2022, the Jamaican government granted a Jamaican-owned subsidiary of an international firm rights to mine on more than one thousand acres of previously protected land claimed by the Maroons despite protests by community representatives.

9. Corruption

Jamaican law provides criminal penalties for corruption by public officials, however, there is at least circumstantial evidence that some officials engage in corrupt practice.  There were also reports of government corruption in the last couple years and it remained a significant cause of public concern.  Media and civil society organizations continued to criticize the government for being slow and at times reluctant to tackle corruption.

Under the Corruption Prevention Act, public servants can be imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined as much as USD 100,000 if found guilty of engaging in acts of bribery, including bribes to foreign public officials.  

In 2017, Jamaica passed an Integrity Commission Act that consolidated three agencies with anti-corruption mandates into a single entity, the Integrity Commission, which now has limited prosecutorial powers.  The three agencies are the precursor Integrity Commission, which received and monitored statutory declarations from parliamentarians; the Office of the Contractor General (OCG), which monitored government contracts; and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, which received the financial filings of specified public servants.  A key area of concern for corruption is in government procurement.  However, successful prosecutions – particularly for high-level corruption – are rare.  Three Ministers of government demitted office between 2018 and March 2022, in the wake of corruption allegations.

Corruption, and its apparent linkages with organized crime, appear to be one of the root causes of Jamaica’s high crime rate and economic stagnation.  In 2021, Transparency International gave Jamaica a score of 44 out of a possible 100 on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI). 

Japan

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Japanese corporate governance has often been criticized for failing to sufficiently prioritize shareholder interests and detect wrongdoing by company executives in a timely way, due in part to a lack of independent corporate directors and to cross-shareholding agreement among firms. Previous governments made corporate governance reform a core element of their economic agendas with the goal of reinvigorating Japan’s business sector through encouraging a stronger focus by management on earnings and shareholder value. PM Kishida has pledged that his administration will facilitate reforms further, with an added emphasis on additional stakeholders, such as labor and the environment.

Progress has been made through efforts by the Financial Services Agency (FSA) and Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) to introduce non-binding reforms through changes to Japan’s Companies Act in 2014 and adoption of a Corporate Governance Code (CSR) in 2015. Together with the Stewardship Code for institutional investors launched by the FSA in 2014, these initiatives have encouraged companies to put cash stockpiles to better use by increasing investment, raising dividends, and taking on more risk to boost Japan’s growth. Positive results of these efforts are evidenced by rising shareholder returns, unwinding of cross-shareholdings, and increasing numbers of independent board members.  According to a TSE survey conducted in December 2018, 85.3 percent of companies had a compliance rate of 90 percent out of the 66 principles of the new code. As of August 2021, 97 percent of TSE First Section-listed firms had at least two independent directors, according to an August 2021 TSE report. In December 2019, the Diet approved a revision of the Companies Act, which will enable companies to provide documents for shareholders’ meetings electronically. Listed companies will be obligated to have at least one outside director. The bill went into effect on March 1, 2021.

Following Stewardship Code revision in March 2020, the TSE and FSA revised the Corporate Governance Code in spring of 2021 to reflect the realignment of the TSE segmentations, which will be implemented in 2022. The revised guidelines require companies, to be listed in the “Prime Section,” a top-tier TSE section, to have more than one-third external directors. As of October 2021, 72.8 percent had one-third external directors. The guidelines also urge listed companies to have more diversity in mid-level and managerial posts by hiring and training female and foreign workers. Awareness of corporate social responsibility (CSR) among both producers and consumers in Japan is high, and foreign and local enterprises generally follow accepted CSR principles. Business organizations also actively promote CSR. Japan encourages adherence to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas.

9. Corruption

Japan’s penal code covers crimes of official corruption, and an individual convicted under these statutes is, depending on the nature of the crime, subject to prison sentences and possible fines. With respect to corporate officers who accept bribes, Japanese law also provides for company directors to be subject to fines and/or imprisonment, and some judgments have been rendered against company directors.

The direct exchange of cash for favors from government officials in Japan is extremely rare. However, the web of close relationships between Japanese companies, politicians, government organizations, and universities has been criticized for fostering an inwardly “cooperative”—or insular—business climate that is conducive to the awarding of contracts, positions, etc. within a tight circle of local players. This phenomenon manifests itself most frequently and seriously in Japan through the rigging of bids on government public works projects. However, instances of bid rigging appear to have decreased over the past decade. Alleged bid rigging between construction companies was discovered on the Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka maglev high-speed rail project in 2017, and the case was prosecuted in March 2018.

Japan’s Act on Elimination and Prevention of Involvement in Bid-Rigging authorizes the Japan Fair Trade Commission to demand that central and local government commissioning agencies take corrective measures to prevent continued complicity of officials in bid rigging activities and to report such measures to the JFTC. The Act also contains provisions concerning disciplinary action against officials participating in bid rigging and compensation for overcharges when the officials caused damage to the government due to willful or grave negligence. Nevertheless, questions remain as to whether the Act’s disciplinary provisions are strong enough to ensure officials involved in illegal bid rigging are held accountable.

Japan ratified the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention, which bans bribing foreign government officials, in 1999. Japan detected only 46 allegations of foreign bribery, half of which the OECD brought to Japan’s attention, through 2019.

For vetting potential local investment partners, companies may review credit reports on foreign companies available from many private-sector sources, including, in the United States, Dun & Bradstreet and Graydon International.  Additionally, a company may inquire about the International Company Profile (ICP), which is a background report on a specific foreign company that is prepared by the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo.

Jordan

8. Responsible Business Conduct

9. Corruption

Courts convicted a former Minister of Public Works and Housing, Customs Director General, and several local elected officials for corruption in separate trials during 2021. In September 2021, the State Security Court issued verdicts in a case related to the illegal production and smuggling of tobacco. A three-judge panel convicted 23 defendants and sentenced the chief suspect to 20 years’ imprisonment. The judges also acquitted four defendants and dismissed charges on two defendants who died during the trial. The verdict was subject to appeal at the Court of Cassation. The State Security Court also imposed fines of JD 179 million ($252 million) on multiple defendants in the case, requiring additional hearings.

Jordan was the first Middle Eastern country to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) in 2005. In 2006, Jordan issued a code of conduct for the public sector, enacted an Illicit Gains Law, and Anti-Corruption Law. Jordanian law defines corruption as any act that violates official duties, all acts related to favoritism and nepotism that could deprive others from their legitimate rights, economic crimes, and misuse of power.

The Illicit Gains Law requires designated officials, their spouses, and minor children to file financial disclosures with the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC). Designated officials include the prime minister, cabinet members, members of parliament, senior government officials, as well as municipal-level council members and executives.

In 2019, Parliament amended the IACC Law granting the IACC more authority to access asset disclosure filings of officials exhibiting unexplained wealth. The amendment empowers the commission to request asset seizures, international travel bans, and suspension of officials under investigation for corruption. The amendment also increases the IACC’s administrative autonomy by enabling the commission to update its own regulations and protecting IACC board members and the chairperson from arbitrary dismissal.

In 2018, the government issued the Code of Governance Practices of Policies and Legislative Instruments in Government Departments, to improve the predictability of legal and regulatory framework governing the business environment.

A new Audit Bureau Law was enacted in 2018 to strengthen audit performance, capacity and independence in line with International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) standards. Other related laws include the Penal/Criminal Code, Anti-Money Laundering Law, Right to Access Information Law, and the Economic Crimes Law.

Jordan is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

Kazakhstan

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Entrepreneurs, the government, and non-governmental organizations are aware of the expectations of responsible business conduct (RBC). Kazakhstan continues to make steady progress toward meeting the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the government promotes the concept of RBC. The OECD National Contact Point is the Ministry of National Economy.

The Entrepreneurial Code has a section on social responsibility, which is defined as a voluntary contribution for the development of social, environmental, and other spheres. This creates conditions for RBC but cannot force entrepreneurs to take socially responsible actions. The code considers charitable contributions as a form of social responsibility and envisions tax preferences for entrepreneurs engaged in charitable activities. The government encourages companies to donate to the Khalkyna (To the People of Kazakhstan Fund).

The government signed on to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2007.  Kazakhstan produces EITI reports that disclose revenues from the extraction of its natural resources.  Companies disclose what they have paid in taxes and other payments, and the government discloses what it has received; these two sets of figures are then compared and reconciled.  In 2019, the EITI Board reported that Kazakhstan had made considerable improvements since 2017 by providing additional information on local content, social investment, and transportation of oil, gas, and minerals.

9. Corruption

Kazakhstan’s rating in Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index is 37/100, where 100 is very clean and 0 is highly corrupt. According to Transparency International, the January civil unrest underscored the dangers of ignoring corruption. The Anti-Corruption Agency has focused on sectors like agriculture and healthcare, leaving out the largest industries. President Tokayev announced in January that the government would do more to combat corruption. Within months, several investigations began against wealthy and powerful individuals, including relatives of First President Nazarbayev.

According to the State Department’s Human Rights Report, the government selectively prosecuted officials who committed abuses, especially in high-profile corruption cases. Nonetheless, corruption remained widespread, and impunity existed for many in positions of authority as well as for those connected to law enforcement entities. The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively. Corruption was widespread in the executive branch, law enforcement agencies, local government administrations, the education system, and the judiciary, according to human rights NGOs. Journalists and advocates for fiscal transparency report frequent harassment and administrative pressure.

The Criminal Code imposes criminal liability and punishment for corruption, forbids suspended sentences for corruption-related crimes, and provides for lifelong bans on employment in the civil service with mandatory forfeiture of title, rank, grade, and state awards for those convicted of corruption-related crimes. The Law on Public Service mandates public servants adhere to rule of law principles including anti-corruption and professionalism of civil service. However, the Law on the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan—Leader of the Nation establishes blanket immunity for First President Nursultan Nazarbayev and members of his household from arrest, detention, search, or interrogation.

Kazakhstan’s Anti-Corruption Agency prepares an annual report on countering corruption. Kazakhstan ratified the UN Convention against Corruption. It participates in the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan of the OECD Anti-Corruption Network, the International Association of Anti-Corruption Agencies, and the International Counter-Corruption Council of CIS member-states. Kazakhstan is a member of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

Corruption continues to be observed in nearly all sectors, including extractive industries, infrastructure projects, state procurements, and banking. The International Finance Corporation’s Enterprise Survey for Kazakhstan, conducted in 2019 with over 1,400 small, medium, and large enterprises, found that 12 percent of respondents had experienced at least one bribe payment request across six different transactions including paying taxes, obtaining permits or licenses, and obtaining utility connections.

Kenya

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999) establishes a legal and institutional framework for responsible environment management, while the Factories Act (1951) safeguards labor rights in industries.  The Mining Act (2016) directs holders of mineral rights to develop comprehensive community development agreements that ensure socially responsible investment and resource extraction and establish preferential hiring standards for residents of nearby communities.  The legal system, however, has remained slow to prosecute violations of these policies.

The GOK is not a signatory to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises on Responsible Business Conduct, and it is not yet an Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) implementing country or a Voluntary Principles Initiative signatory.  Nonetheless, good examples of corporate social responsibility (CSR) abound as major foreign enterprises drive CSR efforts by applying international standards relating to human rights, business ethics, environmental policies, community development, and corporate governance.

9. Corruption

Corruption is pervasive and entrenched in Kenya and international corruption rankings reflect its modest progress over the last decade.  The Transparency International (TI) 2021 Global Corruption Perception Index ranked Kenya 128 out of 180 countries, its second-best ranking, and a marked improvement from its 2011 rank of 145 out of 176.  Kenya’s score of 30, however, remained below the global average of 43 and below the sub-Saharan Africa average of 33.  TI cited lack of political will, limited progress in prosecuting corruption cases, and the slow pace of reform in key sectors as the primary drivers of Kenya’s relatively low ranking.  Corruption has been an impediment to FDI, with local media reporting allegations of high-level corruption related to health, energy, ICT, and infrastructure contracts.  Numerous reports have alleged that corruption influenced the outcome of government tenders, and some U.S. firms assert that compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act significantly undermines their chances of winning public procurements.

In 2018, President Kenyatta began a public campaign against corruption.  While GOK agencies mandated to fight corruption have been inconsistent in coordinating activities, particularly regarding cases against senior officials, cabinet, and other senior-level arrests in 2019 and 2020 suggested a renewed commitment by the GOK to fight corruption.  In 2020, the judiciary convicted a member of parliament to 67 years in jail or a fine of KES 707 million (approximately USD 7 million) for defrauding the government of KES 297 million (approximately USD 2.9 million).  The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), in 2019, secured 44 corruption-related convictions, the highest number of convictions in a single year in Kenya’s history.  The EACC also recovered assets totaling more than USD 28 million in 2019 – more than the previous five years combined.  Despite these efforts, much work remains to battle corruption in Kenya.

Relevant legislation and regulations include the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act (2003), the Public Officers Ethics Act (2003), the Code of Ethics Act for Public Servants (2004), the Public Procurement and Disposal Act (2010), the Leadership and Integrity Act (2012), and the Bribery Act (2016).  The Access to Information Act (2016) also provides mechanisms through which private citizens can obtain information on government activities; however, government agencies’ compliance with this act remains inconsistent.  The EACC monitors and enforces compliance with the above legislation.

The Leadership and Integrity Act (2012) requires public officers to register potential conflicts of interest with the relevant commissions.  The law identifies interests that public officials must register, including directorships in public or private companies, remunerated employment, securities holdings, and contracts for supply of goods or services, among others.  The law requires candidates seeking appointment to non-elective public offices to declare their wealth, political affiliations, and relationships with other senior public officers.  This requirement is in addition to background screening on education, tax compliance, leadership, and integrity.

The law requires that all public officials, and their spouses and dependent children under age 18, declare their income, assets, and liabilities every two years.  Information contained in these declarations is not publicly available, and requests to obtain and publish this information must be approved by the relevant commission.  Any person who publishes or makes public information contained in a public officer’s declarations without permission may be subject to fine or imprisonment.

The Access to Information Act (2016) requires government entities, and private entities doing business with the government, to proactively disclose certain information, such as government contracts, and comply with citizens’ requests for government information.  The act also provides a mechanism to request a review of the government’s failure to disclose requested information, along with penalties for failures to disclose.  The act exempts certain information from disclosure on grounds of national security.  However, the GOK has yet to issue the act’s implementing regulations and compliance remains inconsistent.

The private sector-supported Bribery Act (2016) stiffened penalties for corruption in public tendering and requires private firms participating in such tenders to sign a code of ethics and develop measures to prevent bribery.  Both the constitution and the Access to Information Act (2016) provide protections to NGOs, investigative journalism, and individuals involved in investigating corruption.  The Witness Protection Act (2006) establishes protections for witnesses in criminal cases and created an independent Witness Protection Agency.  A draft Whistleblowers Protection Bill has been stalled in Parliament since 2016.

President Kenyatta directed government ministries, departments, and agencies to publish all information related to government procurement to enhance transparency and combat corruption.  While compliance is improving, it is not yet universal.  The information is published online (https://tenders.go.ke/website/contracts/Index).

Kenya is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and in 2016 published the results of a peer review process on UNCAC compliance:  (https://www.unodc.org/documents/treaties/UNCAC/CountryVisitFinalReports/2015_09_28_Kenya_Final_Country_Report.pdf).  Kenya is also a signatory to the UN Anticorruption Convention and the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery, and a member of the Open Government Partnership.  Kenya is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.  Kenya is also a signatory to the East African Community’s Protocol on Preventing and Combating Corruption.

Kosovo

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Spurred in large part by the growing number of foreign investors, the topic of responsible business conduct (RBC) has begun to surface in public discussions. The American Chamber of Commerce, Kosovo Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Network, and other entities engaged in RBC are able to advocate and monitor freely. The government does not actively promote or encourage RBC and does not factor RBC principles into procurement decisions. In most cases, tenders are awarded to the economic operator with the lowest price offer and highest technical score.

There have not been any major cases of negative corporate impact on human rights in Kosovo. There are occasional complaints and media reports that the health of citizens in the area near the power plant in Obiliq/Obilič is endangered due to high levels of lignite coal pollution. As a result of those concerns, the Kosovo Assembly approved a 2016 Law on Environmentally Endangered Zone of Obiliq/Obilič and its Surroundings, which mandates a return of 20 percent of royalties collected in the area to the municipality. However, many provisions of that law remain unimplemented. There have been reports and allegations of child and forced labor in Kosovo, but they are relatively uncommon and typically engaged in the informal economy or family-run agricultural businesses.

Companies are not required to make a public disclosure of policies, procedures, or practices unless registered as a joint stock company, in which case there are added disclosure responsibilities related to financial reporting and auditing.

Implementation of the Law on Consumer Protection is limited. The government has not undertaken any significant action to raise awareness of consumer rights. The government does not promote the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. Kosovo does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). There are no domestic transparency measures requiring the disclosure of payments made to governments for projects related to the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. Kosovo is not a signatory of The Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association.

9. Corruption

Opinion polls attest to the public perception that corruption is widespread in public procurement and local and international businesses regularly cite corruption, especially in the form of political interference, as one of Kosovo’s largest obstacles to attracting investment. Kosovo has enacted strong legislation to combat corruption, but the government has thus far been unsuccessful in efforts to investigate, prosecute, jail, and confiscate the assets of corrupt individuals. The government has enacted other measures to address corruption, including a requirement to conduct all public procurement electronically and to publish the names of contract winners. The Anti-Corruption Agency and the Office of Auditor General are the government agencies mandated to fight corruption.

The Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest and Discharge in Public Function as well as the Law on Declaration, Origin, and Control of Property of Public Officials are intended to combat nepotism. They require senior public officials and their family members to disclose their property and its origins. The Criminal Code also punishes bribery and corruption.

The U.S. Embassy in Pristina is unaware of any government activity to encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct, or off local industry or non-profit groups that offer services for vetting potential local investment partners.

In 2016, the Kosovo Assembly approved amendments to the Law on Anti-Money Laundering. The EU-compliant law supported Kosovo’s membership in the Egmont Group, a network of 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIU) where the members exchange expertise to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Money laundering is believed to be most common in the real estate and construction sectors. Kosovo’s FIU is an independent governmental agency that leads Kosovo’s efforts to investigate economic crimes.

U.S. companies operating in Kosovo must adhere to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) requirements. Kosovo participated in 2013 as an observer member in the anti-corruption conference organized by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and has attended several international conferences on anti-corruption with the support of the Council of Europe and UNDP. Kosovo’s laws protect NGOs that investigate corruption.

Kuwait

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Kuwaitis have a general awareness of expectations for responsible business conduct, including environmental, social, and governance issues.  One aspect of responsible business conduct in Kuwait is contributions to local charities and causes.  Kuwaiti labor law is generally adequate in its protection of workers, although actual implementation of the law varies. Labor rights violations are generally more common in the domestic worker sphere than in the business community, although violations are common in low wage sectors with high expatriate populations. Economic stress following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 led to an increase in illegally forced “resignations” or illegal salary cuts as businesses sought to relieve themselves of financial obligations. The Kuwait Environmental Public Authority has been active in enforcing compliance and addressing environmental violations, since the passage of the Environmental Protection Law of 2014.

9. Corruption

In recent years, Kuwaiti authorities have increased their focus on combatting corruption and several investigations and trials involving current or former government officials accused of malfeasance are active.

Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index ranked Kuwait 73 out of 180 countries, an improvement from 78 in 2020.  Kuwait ranked behind all other GCC countries except for Bahrain.  According to Transparency International, Kuwait’s numeric score is 43 out of 100.

The often-lengthy procurement process in Kuwait occasionally results in accusations of attempted bribery or the offering of other inducements by bidders.  In 1996, the government passed Law No. 25, which required all companies securing contracts with the government valued at KD 100,000 (USD 330,000) or more to report all payments made to Kuwaiti agents or advisors while securing the contract.  The law similarly requires entities and individuals to report any payments they received as compensation for securing government contracts.

Kuwait signed the UN Convention Against Corruption in 2003 and ratified it in 2007.  In 2016, the National Assembly passed legislation to establish the Anti-Corruption Authority, also known as Nazaha (integrity).  The legislation was passed to comply with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. Nazaha has sent several cases to the Public Prosecution Office for failure to comply with financial disclosure requirements.

Kyrgyz Republic

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The Kyrgyz Government does not factor responsibility business conduct (RBC) policies or practices into its procurement decisions. Historically, the mining sector has been a lightning rod for public controversy concerning RBC violations. In the recent past, local residents have staged rallies to protest against small gold mining operations owned and operated by Chinese and other foreign-owned mining companies based on claims of their detrimental impact on the environment, and in 2021, the Kyrgyz government sued Centerra Gold in international court for alleged environmental violations.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is not a fully developed concept or practice.  Most companies have not yet developed the capacity to coordinate with civil society on this level. The companies that generally demonstrate CSR are large, foreign-owned companies that participate in or lead industry-strengthening training sessions, work with local universities to develop internship programs and donate to national development projects. Many new large investors, particularly in natural resource extraction, find that there is a requirement to establish a sizeable “social development fund” as a prerequisite for doing business in the Kyrgyz Republic. Charitable donations are not tax deductible.

The Kyrgyz Republic is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The online license register of the State Committee on Industry, Energy, and Subsoil Use keeps track of the number of active extractive licenses, and EITI covers more than 95 percent of mining revenues in the Kyrgyz Republic. After being suspended by the EITI in 2017, the EITI Board in September 2020, reinstated the Kyrgyz Republic citing meaningful progress in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard.

Child labor is still used in the country especially in the country’s sizeable shadow economy which includes agriculture, bazaars (transportation of goods, shoes cleaning, sales of beverages and food, etc.), service sector and construction. In 2020, the Kyrgyz Republic made minimal advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, though the government lifted a regressive moratorium on business inspections on January 1, 2022. The government passed a policy package that established a National Referral Mechanism for victims of human trafficking and drafted a new National Action Plan for 2020–2024 on the Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor.

There are approximately 50 private security companies in Kyrgyz Republic. The Kyrgyz Republic is not currently a member of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, and is not a supporter of the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers, nor a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a serious problem at all levels of Kyrgyz society and in all sectors of the economy.  All companies are recommended to establish internal codes of conduct, above all, to prohibit the bribery of public officials. There are laws criminalizing the giving and accepting of bribes, establishing penalties ranging from a small administrative fine to a prison sentence. However, the government’s enforcement of anti-corruption legislation has been notoriously uneven and often politically motivated.

According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, the Kyrgyz Republic ranked 144 out of 180 countries with a score of 27 out of 100 – a lower ranking than 2020 (124) and below the global average score of 43. Kyrgyz politicians and citizens alike are aware of the systemic corruption, but the problem has been difficult to fight. Moreover, many in the Kyrgyz Republic view paying of bribes as the most efficient way to receive government assistance and many, albeit indirectly, gain benefits from corrupt practices. The Kyrgyz Republic is a signatory of the UN Anticorruption Convention but is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. Since 2020, the State Committee on National Security (GKNB) has arrested and detained dozens of public figures including former ministers and current and former members of parliament on suspicion of corruption, most of whom were released after paying a fine. In 2021, the government launched an extensive corruption investigation against former government officials involved in past deals with Centerra Gold related to the Kumtor gold mine. The investigation is ongoing. In recent years, including in 2022, anti-corruption campaigners and Kyrgyz journalists involved in investigating corruption have been subject to intimidation and physical assault, as well as detention on unrelated charges. Such incidents are rarely investigated thoroughly by law enforcement.

In October 2020, the government instituted a policy of “economic amnesty” for corruption, if the perpetrator returns stolen assets. The legality of such amnesty has been disputed by international experts, and a number of high-profile arrests have resulted in swift release following payment of fines. The government is still considering legislation to legalize illicit assets:  a working group is currently developing draft laws that would allow individuals to avoid criminal liability for any assets they declare to the government, order the destruction of any financial disclosure statements filed in the past, and end publication of future financial disclosure statements.

President Japarov established the Anti-Corruption Business Council by decree in July 2021, to develop a strategy and action plan to institute government-wide policies to combat systemic corruption (still in draft form as of March 18, 2021). The President is the Chair of the Council and Nuripa Mukanova is the Secretary General. Its membership is comprised of government officials, business associations, representatives from the diplomatic community, NGOs, and development partners.

U.S. companies seeking to do business in the Kyrgyz Republic, regardless of their size, should assess the business climate in the relevant sector in which they will be operating or investing, and conduct due diligence to ensure full compliance with measures to prevent and detect corruption, including bribery. U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in foreign markets should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both the Kyrgyz Republic and the United States in order to properly comply with them, and where appropriate, should seek the advice of legal counsel.

Laos

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is low general awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) and corporate social responsibility (CSR). There is no systematic government or NGO monitoring of RBC. RBC is not generally included in the government’s investment policy formulations. No concerns regarding human rights and their relation to RBC have been reported so far, however there are ongoing concerns about various forms of trafficking in some of Laos’ Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Department of Commerce

9. Corruption

Corruption is a serious problem in Laos that affects all levels of the economy. The Lao government has developed several anti-corruption laws, but enforcement remains weak. When he assumed office in early 2016, then Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith focused on government anti-corruption efforts. Lao media and the National Assembly now regularly report on corruption challenges and the sacking or disciplining of corrupt officials. In September 2009, Laos ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption. In March 2021, Thongloun was named President of the Lao PDR. He and newly appointed Prime Minister PhankhamViphavanh indicated they will continue to prioritize good governance in their new administration. Laos is ranked 128th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), advancing six spots since 2020.

Domestic and international firms have repeatedly identified corruption as a problem in the business environment and a major detractor for international firms exploring investment or business activities in the local market.

The Lao State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority (SIAA), an independent, ministry-level body, oversees analyzing corruption at the national level and serves as a central office for gathering evidence of suspected corruption. Additionally, each ministry and province has a SIAA office independent from the organization in which it is housed. These SIAA offices feed into the SIAA’s central system.

According to Lao law, both giving and accepting bribes are criminal acts punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. Nonetheless, foreign businesses frequently cite corruption as an obstacle to operating in Laos. Often characterized as a fee for urgent service, officials commonly accept bribes for the purpose of approving or expediting applications. Laos is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

In 2014, an asset declaration regime entered into force for government officials, which required them to declare income, assets, and debts for themselves and their family members; this was further strengthened in 2017 and 2018. Officials are now required to file a declaration on any assets valued over $2,500, including land, structures, vehicles, and equipment, as well as cash, gold, and financial instruments. These declarations are reportedly held privately and securely by the government. If a corruption complaint is made against an official, the SIAA can compare the sealed declaration with the official’s current wealth. Whether this program has worked or is working remains unclear.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies responsible for combating corruption:

Mr. ViengkeoPhonasa
Director General
AntiCorruption Department, State Inspection and AntiCorruption Authority
Sivilay Village, Xaythany District, Vientiane Capital, 13th South Road
Tel: office: 021 715032; Fax: 021 715006; cell: 020 2222 5432

Latvia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of and implementation of due diligence principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR)/Responsible Business Conduct is developing among producers and consumers. Two of the most active promoters of CSR are the American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia and the Employers’ Confederation of Latvia. The Latvian Ministry of Welfare also promotes CSR. Several other initiatives promote CSR, such as the Institute for Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility (https://www.incsr.eu/ ), the Corporate Social Responsibility Platform ( http://www.ksalatvija.lv/en ), and the Human Development Award (http://www.cilvekaizaugsme.lv/home/ ).

Latvia adheres to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Latvia’s national point of contact for the guidelines can be found here: https://www.mfa.gov.lv/en/policy/economic-affairs/oecd/latvian-national-contact-point-for-the-oecd-guidelines-for-multinational-enterprises . Latvia also promotes the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011.

9. Corruption

Latvian law enforcement institutions, foreign business representatives, and non-governmental organizations have identified corruption and the perception of corruption as persistent problems in Latvia. According to the 2021 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Latvia ranks 36th out of 180 countries (in order from the lowest perceived level of public sector corruption to the highest).

To strengthen its anti-corruption programs, the Latvian government has adopted several laws and regulations, including the Law on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism and Proliferation Financing and the Law on Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in the Work of Public Officials. The Conflicts of Interest Law imposes restrictions and requirements on public officials and their relatives. Several provisions of the law deal with the previously widespread practice of holding several positions simultaneously, often in both the public and private sector. The law includes a comprehensive list of state and municipal jobs that cannot be combined with additional employment. Moreover, the law expanded the scope of the term state official to include members of boards and councils of companies with state or municipal capital exceeding 50 percent. Additionally, Latvia is a member of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (FRECO). In line with OECD and GRECO recommendations, the government is working to strengthen anti-corruption policy and enforcement while improving the functioning of the independent Corruption Prevention and Combatting Bureau (KNAB).

Under Latvian law, it is a crime to offer, accept, or facilitate a bribe. Although the law stipulates heavy penalties for bribery, a limited number of government officials have been prosecuted and convicted of corruption to date. The law also provides the possibility of withdrawing charges against a person giving a bribe in cases where the bribe has been extorted or in cases where the person voluntarily reports these incidents and actively assists the investigation. In addition, the Latvian government has adopted a whistleblower law that requires all government agencies and large companies to establish protocols to accept whistleblower disclosures and protect whistleblowers from reprisals.

KNAB is the institution with primary responsibility for preventing and combating corruption and carrying out enforcement activities in response to suspected or alleged corruption. It is subordinated to the Cabinet of Ministers and supervised by the Prime Minister.

KNAB has also established a Public Consultative Council to help increase public participation in implementing its anti-corruption policies, increasing public awareness, and strengthening connections between the agency and the public. More information is available at: https://www.knab.gov.lv/en/knab/consultative/public/ . The Prosecutor General’s Office also plays an important role in fighting corruption.

There is a perceived lack of fairness and transparency in the public procurement process in Latvia. Several companies, including foreign companies, have complained that bidding requirements are sometimes written with the assistance of potential contractors or couched in terms that exclude all but preferred contractors.

A Cabinet of Ministers regulation provides for public access to government information, and the government generally provided citizens such access. There have been no reports the government has denied noncitizens or foreign media access to government information.

Lebanon

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Lebanese firms are aware of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and responsible business conduct (RBC), including on environmental, social, and governance issues.  This is true for the banking sector as well as companies in industry, which are slowly creating sustainable supply chains or pursuing social initiatives to appeal to consumers.  The Lebanese Standards Institution (LIBNOR), part of the Ministry of Industry, strives to expand the use of the ISO 26000 standard on Social Responsibility (SR) in Lebanon, one of the eight pilot countries in the Middle East.  However, laws related to human and labor rights, consumer protection, and environment protections are unevenly enforced.   On December 30, Parliament passed Law No. 205 criminalizing sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Central Bank of Lebanon works with banks to direct their financial resources towards projects that improve society and the environment.  This includes issuing circulars to create favorable environmental and educational loans, encourage entrepreneurship through private equity investments, and facilitate improved governance through customer protection.  Lebanon’s economic crisis, however, has frozen project and corporate lending. In 2015, the banking sector started to implement Central Bank Circular No. 134, requiring banks to apply measures to ensure transparent and fair dealings with their customers, a reflection of the CSR principles of corporate governance and consumer protection.  The Central Bank also established the Institute for Finance and Governance (IFG). Some Lebanese banks attempt to align their business plans and CSR policy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Several banks issue their own annual CSR reports.

The government does not require or encourage private companies to establish internal codes of conduct.  However, several companies have adopted a Code of Ethics and corporate governance codes, including the business association ‘Rassemblement de Dirigeants et Chefs d’Entreprises Libanais’ (RDCL, or the Group of Lebanese Business Owners) Code of Business Ethics, and the Lebanese Code of Corporate Governance (CG), which is under the auspices of the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA).  However, these codes are strictly voluntary and the government provides no incentives or enforcement for their adoption.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Lebanon does not have a national climate strategy. It also does not have a net zero greenhouse gas emission goal for 2050, nor does it have a long-term climate strategy for reaching net zero emissions. However, Lebanon submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention (UNFCCC) in March 2021. Lebanon’s new NDC increased the country’s commitments on climate change and reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. Specifically, Lebanon committed to unconditionally increasing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target relative to the business-as-usual scenario from 15 percent (2015) to 20 percent (2020). In addition, Lebanon committed to conditionally increasing its GHG emission reduction target relative to the business-as-usual scenario from 30 percent to 31 percent

Lebanon committed to unconditionally generating 18 percent of its power demand and 11 percent of its heat demand from renewable energy sources in 2030, compared to its 15 percent combined commitment made in 2015. Moreover, Lebanon conditionally committed to generating 30 percent of its power demand and 16.5 percent of its heat demand from renewable energy sources in 2030, compared to a combined 20 percent in 2015. In April 2019, the Cabinet adopted an electricity reform plan that committed to 30 percent renewable energy for Lebanon’s power generation as well as 840 MW of solar and 600 MW of wind power.

Lebanon’s power generation sector is its largest polluter, with nearly all electricity generation sourced from heavy fuel oil and diesel. The Ministry of Energy and Water is seeking to import natural gas from Egypt and to allow for renewable energy power generation. Should Lebanon reform its electricity sector and once again regain access to international capital markets, Lebanon has a significant opportunity to increase its power generation via renewable sources. A broader chorus of civil society activists and donors believe it will be cheaper for Lebanon to invest in renewable power generation as a solution for its electricity deficit as an alternative to capital intensive fossil fuel power plants.

9. Corruption

U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI, including in government procurement, award of contracts, dispute resolution, customs, and taxation.  A key demand of the anti-government protest movement that led to resignation of the previous government in October 2019 was stricter anti-corruption measures. Corruption is reportedly more pervasive in government contracts (primarily in procurement and public works), taxation, and real estate registration, than in private sector transactions.  Lebanese law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but they are not implemented effectively.  For instance, Lebanon does not effectively enforce its Illicit Wealth Law.  The Illicit Wealth Law applies to all state employees, government and senior officials, and municipality members and extends to family members. The law does not extend to political parties.  The legislation has articles to counter conflict-of interest in awarding contracts and government procurement, but they are not enforced. An amendment to this law from October 2020 obliges the declaration of wealth every three years. The Access to Information Law is not effectively implemented.

In April 2020, Parliament approved several laws seen as key to anti-corruption efforts: an anti-corruption law targeting public sector employee and creating a National Committee to Combat Corruption, and a law to lift immunity of (low-level) public service employees. Implementations of these laws will be critical to their success. In January 2022, the government appointed six commissioners to the National Anti-Corruption Commission. In May 2020, the government approved its National Anti-Corruption Strategy, while Parliament approved a law allowing the committee and Lebanon’s Financial Intelligence Unit to lift bank secrecy for top government officials. It also approved a law changing appointments of top civil servants to a merit-based system. In December 2020, Parliament approved lifting bank secrecy for one year for all those who have dealt with the public sector. Parliament extended this law for an additional year in February 2022. Parliament also passed a landmark public procurement law in June 2021, which will create a new public procurement authority and publish public tenders online. However, implementation remains key to determining how these laws will combat entrenched corruption.

Lebanon ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in April 2009.  Lebanon is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

As for civil society, the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) is a key advocate for stronger anti-corruption enforcement. The LTA also established the Lebanese Advocacy and Legal Advice Center (LALAC) to inform citizens of their rights and to encourage victims and witnesses to take action against cases of corruption.  LALAC operates a hotline for victims and witnesses to report cases of corruption and receive free legal advice and assistance with their case.  The program is currently funded by Transparency International (TI) and the German Foreign Office.  LTA also conducted several workshops targeting municipalities, public servants, investigative journalists, and civil society groups promoting access to information right in Lebanon.

Resources to Report Corruption

Lebanese Transparency Association

Sami El Solh Avenue, Kaloot Bldg, 9th Floor
Badaro, Beirut
P.O. Box 50-552, Lebanon
Tel/Fax: +961-1-388113/4/5
Cell: 70-035777
Email: info@transparency-lebanon.org  

Lesotho

8. Responsible Business Conduct

In Lesotho, responsible business conduct (RBC) is understood as technical business culture which adheres to environmental, social and governance principles that improve the ease of doing business, levels the playing field and manages risk to attract and keep investors. There is a general awareness of RBC and corporate social responsibility among both producers and consumers.  The government maintains and enforces domestic laws with respect to labor and employment rights, consumer protections, and environmental protections.  Labor laws and regulations are rarely waived in order to attract investment, and the government does not compromise on environmental laws.

The Government of Lesotho through the LNDC (which is the Government of Lesotho’s Investment Promotion Agency) subscribes and implements globally accepted due diligence standards as prescribed by the OECD as well as UNCTAD. The government through the assistance of UNCTAD reviewed Lesotho Investment Policy of 2003 and has developed the Investment Policy of 2016. Foreign and local enterprises tend to follow generally accepted corporate social responsibility principles such as those contained in OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations’ Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.  Firms that pursue CSR are viewed favorably by society, but CSR does not necessarily provide any advantages in dealing with the government.

The country has limited tools to protect human rights, labor rights, consumer rights and the environment. The Labor Court has been established to address labor issues. The Consumer Protection Unit is established under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. However, the offices of this unit are only available in one district. The country is yet to establish Human Rights Commission and the Tribunal on Environment matters.

The Lesotho Companies Act of 2011 provides for standard and adaptable requirements for incorporation, organization, operation, and liquidation of companies to encourage efficient and responsible management of companies to protect shareholders and other key stakeholders. Furthermore, the government has assisted the Lesotho Institute of Directors (IoD) in the development of the Mohlomi Corporate Governance Code sponsored by the African Development Bank (ADB). The code was launched in September 2021. This code will provide universal best practices guidance for good corporate governance for Lesotho.

The IoD promotes and monitors responsible business conduct. The local NGO, the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC), also monitors and advocates for responsible business conduct.

Although Lesotho has an extractive/mining industry, it does not participate in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), since it does not extract/produce any of the minerals supported through the initiative.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices;

Trafficking in Persons Report;

Guidance on Implementing the “UN Guiding Principles” for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities;

U.S. National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; and;

Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory

Department of the Treasury

OFAC Recent Actions

Department of Labor

Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor Report;

List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor;

Sweat & Toil: Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World and;

Comply Chain

Climate Issues

The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho (GOKL) has a climate Change Strategy. In 2018, the governemnt prepared the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which sets a 35 % reduction target in Green House Gases (GHG) emission by 2030. The private sector is expected to reduce net GHG emissions by 10% by 2030. The GOKL developed its National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) 2017-2027 to preserve biodiversity. Lesotho’s procurement policies do not include environmental or green growth considerations.

9. Corruption

Lesotho’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is mandated to prevent and to combat corruption.  The country has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption of public officials.  Parliament passed anticorruption legislation in 1999 that provides criminal penalties for official corruption.  The DCEO is the primary anticorruption organ and investigates corruption complaints against public sector officials.  The Amendment of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006 enacted the first financial disclosure laws for public officials.  On February 5, 2016, the government issued regulations to initiate implementation of the financial disclosure laws for public officials who must file their declarations annually by April 30.  The law may also be applied to private citizens if deemed necessary by the DCEO.  The law prohibits direct or indirect bribery of public officials, including payments to family members of officials and political parties.  On June 25, 2020, the parliament passed the amendment on Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006, which will allow the DCEO to investigate money laundering issues beyond national boundaries. This amendment provides the DCEO with the power to work together with similar institutions from other countries in combating corruption.

The Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act of 2008 (amended in 2017) and Public Financial Management and Accountability Act of 2011 serve as additional anti-corruption laws.  The Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act (section 14 (1)) and Public Procurement Regulations of 2007 have provisions that address conflicts-of-interest in awarding government procurement contracts.  Section 6 (g) (h) (i) of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 1999 encourages private companies to develop internal controls to prevent corruption.  Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, awarding licenses, and customs fraud.

While the GOKL has made significant efforts to implement its laws, many officials continue to engage in corruption with impunity.  The DCEO claims it cannot effectively undertake its mission because it lacks adequate resources. The country does not have instruments to protect NGOs investigating corruption. Corruption is pervasive in government procurement, provision of licenses, work permits, and residence permits. The 2020 Afrobarometer survey reflected increasing perceptions of government official corruption from 28% in 2017 to 46% in 2020. The study also showed increasing perception of members of parliament corruption increasing from 22% in 2017 to 45% in 2020.

To prevent corruption and economic offences, the DCEO encourages companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.  Many companies have effective internal controls, ethics, and programs to detect and prevent bribery.

No U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to foreign direct investment in Lesotho.  Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act under the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006, the penalty for which is a minimum of 10,000 maloti (USD 667) or 10 years imprisonment.  Local companies cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Lesotho acceded to the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2005, but it is not yet a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.  Lesotho acceded to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in 2003.  The country is also a member of the Southern African Development Community Protocol against corruption, the Southern African Forum against corruption, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

Liberia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Liberian authorities have not clearly defined responsible business conduct (RBC). The Liberian Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), however, includes RBC requirements in policies such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Strategy (2020-2030), the National Climate Change Response Strategy (2018), and the National Adaptation Plan (2020-2030).   Foreign companies are encouraged, but not required, to publicly disclose their policies, procedures, and practices to highlight their RBC practices.

Some non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), and workers organizations/unions promote or monitor foreign company RBC policies and practices. However, NGOs and CSOs monitoring or advocating for RBC do not conduct their activities in a structured and coordinated manner, nor do they tend to monitor locally owned companies.

Most Liberians are generally unaware of RBC standards.  Generally, the government expects foreign investors to offer social services to local communities and contribute to a government-controlled social development fund for the area in which the enterprise conducts its business. Some communities complain that these contributions to social development funds do not reach them.  The government frequently includes clauses in concession agreements that oblige investors to provide social services such as educational facilities, health care, and other services which other governments typically provide. Foreign investors have reported that some local communities expect benefits in addition to those outlined in formal concession agreements.

Liberia is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). The National Bureau of Concessions monitors and evaluates concession company compliance with concession agreements, but it does not design policies to promote and encourage RBC. Some NGOs report that several concessions have violated human or labor rights, including child labor and environmental pollution. Liberia has several private security companies, but the country is not a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private and Security Companies. Private security companies are regulated by the Ministry of Justice, and they perform a range of tasks such as providing security or surveillance to large businesses, international organizations, diplomatic missions, and some private homes.

9. Corruption

Liberia has laws against economic sabotage, mismanagement of funds, bribery, and other corruption-related acts, including conflicts of interest. However, Liberia suffers from corruption in both the public and private sectors. The government does not implement its laws effectively and consistently, and there have been numerous reports of corruption by public officials, including some in positions of responsibility for fighting corrupt practices. On December 9, 2021, the United States Treasury Department sanctioned Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson under the Global Magnitsky Act for personally enriching himself through pay-for-play funding schemes with government ministries and organizations. In 2021, Liberia ranked 136 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index . See http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview .

The  Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission     (LACC) currently cannot directly prosecute corruption cases without first referring cases to the  Ministry of Justice     (MOJ) for prosecution. If the MOJ does not prosecute within 90 days, the LACC may then take those cases to court, although it has not exercised this right to date. The LACC continues to seek public support for the establishment of a specialized court to exclusively try corruption cases.

In October 2021 the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), launched “The Anti-Corruption Innovation Initiative Project.” LACC will hire at least 15 officers around the country who will report on corruption to the LACC. LACC is also developing a national digital platform for the public to report corruption.

Foreign investors generally report that corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, contract and concession awards, customs and taxation systems, regulatory systems, performance requirements, and government payments systems.  Multinational firms often report paying fees not stipulated in investment agreements. Private companies do not have generally agreed and structured internal controls, ethics, or compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of public officials. No laws explicitly protect NGOs that investigate corruption.

Liberia is signatory to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on the Fight against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption (AUCPCC), and the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), but Liberia’s association with these conventions has done little to reduce rampant government corruption.

Libya

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is not a general awareness of, expectation of, or standards for responsible business conduct (RBC) in Libya, nor of businesses’ obligation to proactively conduct due diligence to ensure they are doing no harm (including with regards to environmental, social, and governance issues). The Libyan government has not taken measures to define or encourage RBC, such as promoting the OECD or UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or establishing a national contact point or ombudsman for stakeholders to get information or raise concerns about RBC. As far as domestic laws exist in relation to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, and other laws/regulations intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts, the capacity of the government to enforce these laws is very limited.

Libya is not a signatory of the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, and is not a participant in the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

Foreign firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI; corruption is pervasive in virtually all sectors of the economy, especially in government procurement. Officials frequently engage with impunity in corrupt practices such as graft, bribery, nepotism, money laundering, human smuggling, and other criminal activities. Although Libyan law provides some criminal penalties for corruption by officials, the government does not enforce the law effectively. Internal conflict and the weakness of public institutions further undermine enforcement. No financial disclosure laws, regulations, or codes of conduct require income and asset disclosure by appointed or elected officials.

The Libyan Audit Bureau, the highest financial regulatory authority in the country, has made minimal efforts to improve transparency. The Audit Bureau has investigated mismanagement at the General Electricity Company of Libya that had lowered production and led to acute power cuts. Other economic institutions such as the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank published some economic data during the year.

Libya has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention. It is not party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

Lithuania

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Although Lithuania has a strong private sector, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is still relatively new in Lithuania. However, over the past few years many companies, especially those in Vilnius, have developed more robust CSR programs. There are an increasing number of private-public partnerships and social projects where the private sector is involved in supporting volunteerism, environmental restoration, and scholarships. Furthermore, successful participation in the European Union market requires higher standards of CSR. Foreign investors in Lithuania have played a very important role in promoting CSR. In 2009, the government developed and approved a National Corporate Social Responsibility Development Program aimed at promoting CSR. Also, in the past few years there has been growing interest from both government and NGOs in promoting CSR values by organizing competitions and awards ceremonies such as the Social and Labor Ministry’s annual Socially Responsible Business Awards Ceremony, Confederation of Industrialists’ Awards, and others. Also, after Lithuania acceded to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2017, more business organizations and the legal community have started to promote the importance of companies adopting anti-bribery compliance programs.

9. Corruption

A 2019 Eurobarometer study on Businesses’ attitudes towards corruption in the EU shows that corruption is becoming less of an obstacle for business in Lithuania. Only 15 percent of business executives identified corruption as a problem in Lithuania, twice fewer than in 2015. Out of 27 EU countries, Lithuania was ranked seventh for corruption being the least pressing issue in business. Additionally, the Lithuanian Map of Corruption 2019 survey initiated by the Special Investigations Service (STT) – Lithuania’s anti-corruption law enforcement agency – also showed the positive anti-corruption trends in business environment over the past decades. However, nepotism and cronyism – hiring relatives and friends – are still the most prevalent forms of corruption that hinder business development.

More than 50 governmental institutions regulate commerce in one way or another, creating opportunities for corrupt practices. Large foreign investors report few problems with corruption. On the contrary, most large investors report that high-level officials are often very helpful in solving problems fairly. In general, foreign investors say that corruption is not a significant obstacle to doing business in Lithuania and describe most of the bureaucrats they deal with in Lithuania as reasonable and fair. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) perceive themselves as more vulnerable to petty bureaucrats and commonly complain about extortion. SMEs often complain that excessive red tape virtually requires the payment of “grease money” to obtain permits promptly. Business owners maintain that some government officials, on the other hand, view SMEs as likely tax-cheats and smugglers, and treat the owners and managers accordingly.

Paying or accepting a bribe is a criminal act. Lithuania established in 1997 the Special Investigation Service (Specialiujų Tyrimų Tarnyba) specifically to fight public sector corruption. The agency investigates approximately 100 cases of alleged corruption every year. The STT has a strong track record in investigating and prosecuting corruption cases, but has identified corruption prevention as an area for improvement, which Lithuania’s new anti-corruption law that entered into effect in 2022 aims to address. The law codifies the responsibilities of public institutions to enforce stricter standards of openness and transparency. The law also establishes a network of trained anti-corruption officials throughout all levels and areas of government, implements stricter personnel screening procedures, and standardizes metrics to measure anti-corruption performance.

Transparency International (TI)has a national chapter in Lithuania. TI ranked Lithuania 34th out of 180 in its 2021 Perceptions of Corruption Index with a score of 61 out of 100 (TI considers countries with a score below 50 to have serious problems with corruption.). Medical personnel and local government officials, among others, were cited by TI as prone to corruption.

Lithuania ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2006 and acceded to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2017.

Resources to Report Corruption

Special Investigation Service
Jakšto g. 6, 01105 Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370-5266333
Fax: 370-70663307
Email: pranesk@stt.lt 

Sergejus Muravjovas, Executive Director
Transparency International
Didžioji st. 5, LT–01128, Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: 370 5 212 69 51
info@transparency.lt  | skype: ti_lithuania

Luxembourg

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is a heightened awareness of responsible business conduct in Luxembourg, whether it is in the corporate sector or among the consuming public. In financial matters, a desire to avoid inclusion on the OECD’s tax haven grey list has driven a push for greater transparency. While Luxembourg has always taken a lead role in ecological matters, including stringent trash sorting and mandatory recycling procedures, the global discussion on climate change, pushed to the forefront by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (COP 21) and pressure from the EU in terms of concrete goals and directives, has made green finance a high priority.

In 2016, Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) created the Luxembourg Green Exchange (LGX), the world’s first stock exchange to deal with securities related to climate change. It currently lists over $320 billion of green bonds. LGX is a dedicated platform for issuers and investors focused on green instruments. With over 750 securities denominated in 32 countries, this represents a 50% global market share for green bonds. In its offer, LuxSE helps issuers market their green securities by generating awareness for their green projects.

There have been no controversial instances of corporate impact on human rights in Luxembourg.There are also independent NGOs, worker organizations/unions, and business trade associations promoting and monitoring RBC. These organizations can do their work freely and often directly integrated into the review, oversight, and supervisory process.

There are no systemic labor or human rights concerns relating to RBC, with the government encouraging companies to respect human rights and pleading for a duty-of-care principle at the international level. In June 2018, the government adopted the country’s first National Action Plan to Implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, an initiative welcomed by civil society actors for educating the private sector on its responsibilities but criticized for failing to introduce a binding legal framework. In Luxembourg, there have been very few cases of labor exploitation and labor trafficking, with many of them occurring in the catering and construction sectors. Given the high bar of evidence for trafficking crimes and the fact that many victims travel to Luxembourg by their own means, perpetrators were often sentenced for the employment and/or exploitation of illegal workers and benefited from a suspended sentence if first-time offenders.

Luxembourg signed the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies in 2013.

9. Corruption

Regulations are enforced by the strong but flexible Financial Sector Surveillance Commission (CSSF, which is equivalent to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission). U.S. firms have not identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI in Luxembourg. There are no known areas or sectors where corruption is pervasive, whether in Government procurement, transfers, performance requirements, dispute settlement, regulatory system, or taxation.

Giving or accepting a bribe, including between a local company and a public official, is a criminal act subject to the penal code. Recently, a mayor was implicated in abusing his office for personal purposes. Senior Government officials take anti-corruption efforts seriously. International, regional, or local nongovernmental watchdog organizations do not operate in the country, given the low risk.

Luxembourg has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption effectively, and they are enforced impartially with no disproportionate attention to foreign investors or any other group. The country ranks very favorably on the World Bank’s corruption index.

Luxembourg has made anti-money laundering and suppression of terrorism financing a priority, given its status as a leading world financial center. The government has taken the lead in freezing bank accounts suspected to be connected to terrorist networks, and since 2004 extended the law against money-laundering and terrorist financing to additional professional groups (including auditors, accountants, attorneys, and notaries).

On February 14, 2018, a new law implementing a substantial part of the fourth anti-money laundering (AML) directive was published in the Official Journal of Luxembourg. The law entered into force on February 18, 2018. Local police, responsible for combating corruption, also work closely with neighboring countries’ law enforcement officials, as well as with Interpol and Europol.

Macau

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The six gaming concessionaires that dominate Macau’s economy pay four percent of gross gaming revenues to the government to fund cultural and social programs in the SAR. Several operators also directly fund gaming addiction rehabilitation programs. Some government-affiliated entities maintain active corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. For example, Companhia de Electricidade de Macau, an electric utility, provides educational programs and repair services free-of-charge to underprivileged residents.

The GOM did not put any restrictions on the qualifications of the potential bidders in the 2002 public tender of gaming concession. Twenty-one companies, including those holding capital in Macau, Hong Kong, the U.S., Malaysia, Australia, United Kingdom, and Taiwan, submitted bidding papers, but the government eventually granted concessions to only three bidders: SJM, Wynn Macau, and Galaxy Entertainment Group. Subsequently, another three casino operators, Sands China, MGM China Holdings, and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, were allowed into the market via sub-concessions spun off from the three original concessionaires selected in the 2002 public tender. As all six gaming concessions and sub-concessionaires will expire by June 2022, the GOM is now revising the city’s gaming laws and plans to complete the task by the fourth quarter of 2021, before submitting a finalized draft bill to the Legislative Assembly. One of the nine factors that the GOM will consider for the renewal of the gaming licenses is the casino operator’s CSR (corporate social responsibility) performance. Unlike 2002, the GOM will likely require potential casino operators to increase their organization’s CSR efforts in Macau and to do more to facilitate Macau’s economic diversification. In November 2019, the Business Awards of Macau presented the Gold Award to Galaxy Entertainment Group for its CSR initiatives.

Macau is not a member of the OECD, and hence, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are not applicable to Macau companies.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

9. Corruption

Mainland China extended in February 2006 the United Nations Convention Against Corruption to Macau. Macau has laws to combat corruption by public officials and the private sector. Anti-corruption laws are applied in a non-discriminatory manner and effectively enforced. One provision stipulates that anyone who offers a bribe to foreign public officials (including officials from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan) and officials of public international organizations in exchange for a trade deal could receive a jail term of up to three years or fines.

The CCAC is a member of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities and a member of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific. The CCAC’s guidelines on prevention and repression of corruption in the private sector and a booklet Corruption Prevention Tips for Private Companies provide rules of conduct that private companies must observe. In January 2019, the GOM completed a public consultation on public procurement to create a legal framework through which the GOM will seek to promote an efficient and transparent regime.

Resources to Report Corruption

CHAN Tsz King, CommissionerCommission Against Corruption105, Avenida Xian Xing Hai, 17/F, Centro Golden Dragon, Macau+853- 2832-6300 ccac@ccac.org.mo 

Malawi

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporate entities in Malawi have a well-developed sense of responsible business conduct (RBC) and incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into their business practices. Corporate entities make a point to publicize their CSR activities in the local media. There are no established laws or regulations governing RBC or CSR. As a candidate to the Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI), the government is promoting RBC in the mining sector.

There are a variety of laws and regulations to protect the environment and on waste disposal for producers and consumers. All foreign and domestic enterprises are expected to adhere to the national and local laws and regulations regarding employment and compensation, the work environment, industrial safety, age limits, and minimum wages. However, there is a lack of resources for meaningful enforcement of laws and regulations and no comprehensive reporting mechanism to track violations.

There is no history of any laws or regulations being waived to attract investment, nor of the government factoring in RBC practices into its procurement decisions. There are no verified reports of high profile or controversial instances of any private sector entity impacting human rights or related resolutions. In the recent past, the media reported on complaints by indigenous communities against government MDAs related to land or natural resource allocations. Most land allocation complaints are related to development projects and are decided by the courts or in mediation. There is a general lack of government enforcement and reporting on human rights, labor rights, environment protections because of budget and capacity constraints.

The private sector is required to adhere to international accounting standards. Executive compensation requirements are not defined. The law requires all Malawi Stock Exchange (MSE) listed companies to publish their annual audited accounts in local newspapers. Listed companies are also required to publicly declare profits, dividends, planned takeovers, major portfolio investments, and all relevant information for shareholders to make informed decisions.

The Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), the Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Institute for Sustainable Development, Consumers Association of Malawi, Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN), and Natural Resources Justice Network are civil society organizations that monitor and advocate freely for CSR and RBC in Malawi. Malawi does not adhere to OECD Guidelines for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. There are no domestic requirements for due diligence by companies engaged in the supply chain of minerals that may originate from conflict-affected areas.

The EITI Board approved Malawi as a candidate country in 2015. Malawi’s Validation was completed in 2018, and the EITI Board concluded that Malawi has made meaningful progress overall in implementing the EITI Standards. The Board determined Malawi must carry out corrective actions regarding the findings of the initial assessment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the final assessment has been delayed until sometime in 2022. Failure to achieve meaningful progress on the second validation will result in suspension in accordance with the EITI Standard.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a major challenge for firms operating in Malawi. Corruption, fraud, bribery of public officials, illicit payments, misuse of funds, and conflicts of interest are not uncommon. A number of high-profile government scandals have occurred during all recent presidential administrations. President Lazarus Chakwera dissolved his cabinet in January 2022 over a corruption scandal. Corruption in all forms is illegal in Malawi. However, enforcement is insufficient and slow. The Corrupt Practices Act established the independent Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) which works with other anti-corruption bureaus in the region but is consistently under-staffed and under-resourced. The Act widened the definition of corruption to include offences for abuse of office and possession of unexplained wealth. The Act also provides protection for whistleblowers. The ACB encourages private sector companies and institutions to develop and implement corruption prevention policies as a way of mainstreaming anti-corruption initiatives into their operations. The business sector may join forces to collectively engage in the fight against corruption, but no formal mechanism currently exists. Some companies employ their own fraud controls, but to date fraud identified through internal controls has failed to result in any high-level prosecutions.

Malawian law requires all public officials from all levels of government to declare their assets and business interests. However, access to view or obtaining copies of the declarations is difficult at best. However, the law does not extend to family members. The Political Parties Act requires all political parties to disclose source of funds. If corruption evidence implicates family members or members of a political party the ACB has the power to build a case against accomplices and bring them to court. All public officials are required to disclose any conflict of interest and to recuse themselves from any deliberation or decision-making process in relation to the conflict. However, there is no clear definition of what constitutes conflict of interest. Despite have the legal framework in place, in practice the requirements for public asset declarations, political party financial reporting, and conflict of interest disclosures are rarely enforced, and noncompliance is high.

Malawi is party to the UN Convention Against Corruption and the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption. According to Malawi law, citizens have a right to form NGOs focused on anti-corruption or good governance and these NGOs are free to accept funding from any domestic or foreign sources. Malawi’s civil society and the media play an important and visible role in fighting corruption, investigating, and uncovering cases of corruption. Specific firms with U.S. affiliations have noted irregularities in tender processes and mining licensing but have nonetheless continued to pursue business opportunities. Although some progress has been made, corruption remains a major obstacle to businesses in Malawi.

Maldives

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is limited but growing awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) or corporate social responsibility (CSR) among the business elite and tourism resort owners.  All new government leases for tourism resorts contain CSR requirements and individual resorts often implement their own RBC programs.  However, the government does not have a consistent policy or national action plan to promote responsible business conduct. As of March 2022, the Ministry of Economic Development is in the final stages of drafting an Industrial Relations bill and an Occupational Health and Safety bill. Both bills are scheduled to be submitted to Parliament during the first session of 2022.

Several workers’ organizations monitor and advocate for RBC regarding workers’ rights, the most active of which is the Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM). Further, many NGOs advocate for RBC in environment-related issues. Civil society organizations (CSOs) often work together to campaign for the introduction of new laws such as an Industrial Relations Law and an Occupational Health and Safety Law. These CSOs can function without harassment from the government, though COVID-related restrictions during the pandemic made conducting their activities difficult.

9. Corruption

Maldives made significant progress in its efforts to increase its transparency, jumping from 130 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception index in 2019 to 75th in 2020. Its score increased from 29 out of 100 to 43 out of 100, surpassing that of regional competitors like Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan. In 2021, Maldives fell ten spots in the rankings and saw its score fall to 40. Still, corruption practices exist at all levels of society, threatening inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

The Solih administration has publicly pledged to tackle widespread corruption and judicial reform.  As part of President Solih’s first 100 business day agenda, he established a Presidential Commission on Corruption and Asset Recovery to investigate corruption cases originating between February 2012 and November 2018.  As of March 2022, the commission had not issued a report of its findings.  Additional measures towards increased transparency include requiring public financial disclosures for cabinet members, political appointees, and all members of parliament. On December 15, 2021, the Parliament voted to dismiss all members of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) following a performance audit, which found that more than 16,000 cases were still pending.

Maldives law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but enforcement is weak.  The law on prevention and punishment of corruption (2000) defines bribery and improper pecuniary advantage and prescribes punishments.  The law also outlines procedures for the confiscation of property and funds obtained through the included offenses.  Penalties range from six months to 10 years banishment, or jail terms.  According to non-governmental organizations, a narrow definition of corruption in the law, and the lack of a provision to investigate and prosecute illicit enrichment, limited the Anti-Corruption Commission’s work.

Maldives acceded to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in March 2007, and under the 2008 Constitution, an independent Anti-Corruption Commission was established in December 2008.  The responsibilities of the Commission include inquiring into and investigating all allegations of corruption by government officials; recommending further inquiries and investigations by other investigatory bodies; and recommending prosecution of alleged offenses to the prosecutor general, where warranted.  The Commission does not have a mandate to investigate cases of corruption of government officials by the private sector.

Maldives is a party to the UN Anticorruption Convention.  Maldives is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

A number of domestic human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.  Government officials, however, often have not been cooperative or responsive to their views.  Upon assumption of office, President Solih’s administration pledged to submit a new NGO bill that would increase protections for non-government organizations. The bill completed parliamentary debate and is undergoing committee review as of March 2022.

Mali

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is no general awareness or defined standard of responsible business conduct in Mali among producers or consumers. Despite the creation of the Malian Agency for Normalization and Quality Promotion (Agence Malienne de Normalisation et de Promotion de la Qualité or AMANORM) and the National Agency for the Sanitary Security of Foods (Agence Nationale pour la Securité Sanitaire des Aliments or ANSSA), some report Mali continues to produce, import, and export dangerous products and products of poor quality. Allegations of violations of hygiene and quality standards are common in the food-processing industry and investors have reported there is no general awareness about the dangers of unsafe and toxic chemical products in food production.

Labor rights are not generally respected given Mali’s large and unregulated informal sector. Even formal businesses often hire workers informally, such that employees do not always receive social security, retirement, or other related benefits. Mali has various laws intended to prevent child and forced labor, as well as business practices harmful to the environment and local communities. Despite these laws, there are frequent reported cases of child labor and forced labor in the mining, agricultural, service, and industrial sectors. The mining code requires owners of mining and exploitation permits to present local development plans to mitigate the health, security, hygiene, environment, and cultural heritage impacts of their mining activities. Conflicts between local artisanal mining communities and foreign mining companies over land ownership rights are frequent. Local communities have voiced concern with the significant environmental impacts of mining, including from dredging, as well as the lack of government efforts to restore and rehabilitate the environment after mine closures. Foreign mining and oil exploration companies sometimes provide schools and health clinics to communities in proximity of their activities as a form of corporate social responsibility. These activities are not done in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises but are rather the result of individual negotiations between the company and the leaders of neighboring communities.

Mali is an active member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and since 2011 has been designated as a “compliant country.” The latest EITI decision available at https://eiti.org/board-decision/2019-47  notes Mali made “meaningful progress with considerable improvements in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard.”

Acute insecurity and intercommunal violence in the northern and central regions as well as episodic terrorist attacks in the southern regions have contributed to the development of the private security sector, which proposes services to the government, local companies, foreign governments and companies, and international organizations. The deployment of Russia-backed private military company Wagner Group in Mali has raised concerns from the international community and the U.S. government that the group may further destabilize Mali’s territory. Mali is not a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

9. Corruption

Many companies claim corruption is the most significant obstacle to foreign investment and economic development in Mali. While corruption is a crime punishable under the penal code, bribery is frequently reported in many large contracts and investment projects. Some investors report government officials often solicit bribes to complete otherwise routine procedures. The transition government has pledged to prioritize anti-corruption efforts. In 2021, Transparency International’s global corruption ranking for Mali decreased to 136th of 180 ranked countries (from 129th of 180 in 2020). Mali’s perceived public corruption score from Transparency International was 29 out of 100 in 2020 (with 0 being “highly corrupt” and 100 being “very clean”). Relative to other developing countries, Mali was rated at the 67th percentile for control of corruption on the FY2020 MCC Scorecard (based on World Bank and Brookings Worldwide Governance Indicators reports).

Corruption is reportedly common in government procurement and dispute settlement. The government has addressed this issue by requiring procurement contracts to be inspected by the Directorate General for Public Procurement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which determines whether the procedure meets fairness, price competitiveness, and quality standards. However, there are allegations of significant political interference in procurement. In addition, both foreign and domestic companies complain about harassment and requests for bribes from officials involved in tax collection. Mali’s international donor community has been working with the government to reduce corruption.

Investors have found the judicial sector to be neither independent nor transparent. Questionable judgments in commercial cases have occasionally been successfully overturned at the supreme court. However, there is a general perception among the populace that while prosecution of minor economic crimes is routine, official corruption, particularly at the higher levels, goes largely unpunished.

In 2004, then-president of Mali Amadou Toumani Touré created the Office of the Auditor General (BVG) as an independent agency tasked with auditing public spending. Since its inception, the BVG has uncovered several significant cases of corruption, including in the customs directorate. However, few findings of corruption have resulted in prosecutions.

Growing pressure from international donors for more transparency in public resource management led to changing the appointment process for directors of finance and equipment across many ministries. As a result, in March 2017, the Minister of Economy and Finances dismissed 15 Directors of Finance and Equipment. Eighteen others were moved to other ministries. The government opened OCLEI in 2017 to combat illicit enrichment by government officials. OCLEI has the authority to collect asset declarations from public servants, to conduct investigations of government officials suspected of corruption, and to refer cases for prosecution if sufficient evidence is gathered against the defendant. However, OCLEI’s operations were suspended following civil servants’ union protests against asset declaration requirements. Negotiations between the unions, the government, and donors eventually yielded a satisfactory solution that enabled the office to resume operations, and the office has begun registering asset declarations for certain categories of civil servants. According to its 2017-2018 report, OCLEI received asset declarations from approximately 1,000 civil servants (nearly 70 percent of all civil servants in Mali are subject to assets declaration) over 2017-2018 and referred three suspected cases of corruption to the justice system. However, OCLEI came under significant pressure in 2020 when Mali’s main workers union requested the government close OCLEI.

Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2019, the newly appointed Minister of Justice took measures to address corruption by appointing a new prosecutor in the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako, a court in charge of prosecution of corruption. Since these changes, many high-profile business and political leaders have been arrested due to corruption allegations. In 2021, Mali’s Auditor General released 11 financial audit reports, two performance audit reports, four reports of conformity, and four reports on the level of implementation of recommendations it made in previous audit reports. The Auditor General refers cases of fraud or other unlawful practices to the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako. Since the beginning of the transition government in 2020, reports from the Auditor General have led to the arrest of many high-profile former government officials for alleged involvement in corruption business dealings. Though these are welcome developments for some observers, others have highlighted the political motivations behind these arrests and the failure of the judicial branch to prosecute them properly and in a timely manner. In sum, the results of recent anti-corruption efforts remain a mixed bag.

In September 2021, the National Transition Council (CNT) passed the law on the creation of the national court dedicated to combating economic and financial crimes. The Act amends provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and provides the legal basis for establishing a much-needed institution to prosecute economic and financial crimes wherever they occur in Mali.  The new Criminal Procedure Code established three specialized anti-corruption chambers under the jurisdictions of appellate courts in Kayes, Bamako, and Mopti.

The new, national anti-corruption court establishes a comprehensive system to fight corruption and to coordinate across numerous specialized agencies such as CENTIF, OCLEI, and BVG. It is also the single judicial point of contact for economic and financial crimes with authority to liaise on cooperation requests for international mutual assistance on corruption related criminal matters.

Mali’s transition authorities have prioritized messaging about anti-corruption and the need for enhanced financial transparency in governance. The creation of a national anti-corruption court that is professionally staffed and empowered to aggressively prosecute economic and financial crimes is an important step toward real progress on this issue.

Malta

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become more prevalent in Malta in recent years, as global concerns such as climate change have risen to the forefront and as the EU has raised expectations for its member states regarding CSR. An increasing number of companies in Malta recognize the importance of their role in society and the real benefits of adopting a proactive approach to CSR.

The Maltese government does not specifically request adherence to OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises; however, it is expected that multinationals follow generally accepted CSR principles.

Under the Code of Good Corporate Governance Guidelines, issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority in 2006, boards should seek to adhere to accepted CSR principles in day-to-day management practices and work closely with “suppliers, customers, employees, and public authorities.” Although corporate governance guidelines are non-binding in nature, public interest companies should highlight the adherence to such corporate governance principles in their annual reports.

In line with recent amendments to the Companies Act, the directors’ report that accompanies the annual financial statements should include an analysis of both financial and non-financial key performance indicators relevant to the particular business, including information relating to environmental matters.

9. Corruption

Maltese law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, and the government generally implements these laws effectively. The Malta Police Force and the Permanent Commission against Corruption are responsible for combating official corruption. Past news reports suggest a number of government corruption allegations, which have resulted in legal action and resignations.

While corruption remains an area of concern more broadly, public sector corruption, including bribery of public officials, is not a significant challenge for U.S. firms operating in Malta. The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) completed its fifth evaluation of Malta in the autumn of 2018 and its findings were published in September 2019. Following the four previous rounds of evaluation and a follow-up compliance review, Malta introduced a number of legislative measures to combat corruption and is currently in the process of introducing further measures to improve its financial oversight.

In 2019, the Committee of the Experts on the Evaluation of Anti Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) identified several shortcomings an gaps within the local AML/CFT framework, which triggered an assessment by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). FATF placed Malta on the Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring list, also known as the grey list in June 2021.

In May 2021, MONEYVAL conducted their follow-up report on Malta, where they found that the country made considerable effort in its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, giving the country a clean bill of health.

In March 2022, the FATF plenary noted positive developments in Malta’s efforts on AML/CFT and announced that an evaluation team would visit the country to assess the implemented reforms up close, with an eye to discuss the country’s position on the grey list during the June 2022 Plenary.

The latest MONEVAL follow up report is available at https://rm.coe.int/moneyval-2021-7-fur-malta/1680a29c70 

In the wake of the FATF greylisting, Malta has taken significant steps over the years to combat corruption, including the establishment in 2002 of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) to support domestic and international law enforcement investigative efforts. The Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations were transposed into Maltese law in July 2008, and conform to EU Directive 2005/60/EC (the Third Directive) and Directive 2006/70/EC. Malta transposed the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive in December 2017 and, in April 2018, announced its first national Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Funding of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Strategy.

Local Laws: U.S. firms should familiarize themselves with local anti-corruption laws, and, where appropriate, seek legal counsel. While the U.S. Department of Commerce cannot provide legal advice on local laws, the Department’s Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) can provide assistance with navigating the host country’s legal system and obtaining a list of local legal counsel.

Assistance for U.S. Businesses: The U.S. Department of Commerce offers several services to aid U.S. businesses seeking to address business-related corruption issues. For example, the FCS can provide services that may assist U.S. companies in conducting due diligence as part of the company’s overarching compliance program when choosing business partners or agents overseas. The FCS can be reached directly through its offices in major U.S. and foreign cities or through its website at www.trade.gov/cs . The Departments of Commerce and State provide worldwide support for qualified U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts through the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center and Department of State’s Office of Commercial and Business Affairs. Problems, including alleged corruption by foreign governments or competitors, encountered by U.S. companies in seeking such foreign business opportunities can be brought to the attention of appropriate U.S. government officials, including local embassy personnel and through the Department of Commerce Trade Compliance Center “Report a Trade Barrier” website at http://tcc.export.gov/Report_a_Barrier/index.asp .

Guidance on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA): The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) FCPA Opinion Procedure enables U.S. firms and individuals to request a statement of DOJ’s present enforcement intentions under the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA regarding any proposed business conduct. The details of the opinion procedure are available on DOJ’s Fraud Section website: http://www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa . Although the Department of Commerce has no enforcement role with respect to the FCPA, it supplies general guidance to U.S. exporters who have questions about the FCPA and about international developments concerning the FCPA. For further information, see the Office of the Chief Counsel for International Counsel, U.S. Department of Commerce website at https://ogc.commerce.gov/collection/office-chief-counsel-international-commerce .

Additional Anti-Corruption Resources

Useful resources for individuals and companies regarding combating corruption in global markets include the following:

Information about the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, including links to national implementing legislation, good practice guidance and country monitoring reports, is available at: http://www.oecd.org/daf/anti-bribery/oecdantibriberyconvention.htm .

Transparency International (TI) publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). The CPI measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world. http://www.transparency.org/cpi2015 .

TI also publishes an annual Global Corruption Report that provides a systematic evaluation of the state of corruption around the world. It includes an in-depth analysis of a focal theme, a series of country reports that document major corruption related events and developments from all continents and an overview of the latest research findings on anti-corruption diagnostics and tools.

The World Bank Institute publishes Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI). These indicators assess six dimensions of governance in 212 countries, including Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Violence, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law and Control of Corruption. http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home .

The World Bank Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Surveys are available at http://www.enterprisesurveys.org/ .

The World Economic Forum publishes the Global Enabling Trade Report, which presents the rankings of the Enabling Trade Index and includes an assessment of the transparency of border administration (focused on bribe payments and corruption) and a separate segment on corruption and the regulatory environment. The latest reports are available at: http://reports.weforum.org/global-enabling-trade-report-2016/ .

Additional country information related to corruption can be found in the U.S. State Department’s annual Human Rights Report available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/.

Global Integrity, a nonprofit organization, publishes its annual Global Integrity Report, which provides indicators for 92 countries with respect to governance and anti-corruption. The report highlights the strengths and weaknesses of national level anti-corruption systems. https://www.globalintegrity.org/annual-reports/ .

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Malta signed the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2005 and ratified it in 2008, but it has not signed the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

Mauritania

Mauritius

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The National Committee for Corporate Governance (NCCG) was established under Section 63 of the Financial Reporting Act (2004) and is the coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance in Mauritius. The NCCG was attached to the Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance until 2021, when it was recognized as a corporate body following an amendment to the Financial Reporting Act. The purpose of the Committee is to: (i) establish principles and practices of corporate governance; (ii) promote the highest standards of corporate governance; (iii) promote public awareness about corporate governance principles and practices; and (iv) act as the national coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance. The latest Code of Corporate Governance for Mauritius (2016) was launched on February 13, 2017 and can be accessed at https://nccg.mu/full-code. In 2021, the NCCG also launched a Corporate Governance Scorecard to introduce an objective and quantitative element for companies to report on compliance. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), also set up under the Financial Reporting Act (2004), aims to advocate for the provision of high-quality reporting of financial and non-financial information by public interest entities and to improve the quality of accountancy and audit service. Mauritius does not have a dedicated center for research on corporate governance.

The Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance was established following the December 2014 elections. Its mandate is to provide guidance and support for enforcement of good governance and the eradication of corruption. In 2015, the Financial Services Commission introduced a Code of Business Conduct as part of its Fair Market Conduct Program. The Financial Services Commission has also introduced several measures in 2020 and 2021 to comply with recommendations made by the Financial Action ask Force for enhancing anti-money laundering and combatting terrorism financing standards.

The Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) is an independent, private sector-led organization that also promotes high standards and best practices of corporate governance, with additional information available at http://www.miod.mu .

In 2017, the government set up a National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Foundation, which operated under the Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment. In 2019, this foundation became the National Social Inclusion Foundation (NSIF). The NSIF is managed by a council consisting of members from the private and public sectors, civil society, and academia. Under the 2016 Finance Act, every company registered in Mauritius must set up a CSR fund and annually contribute the equivalent of 2 percent of its taxable income from of the previous year. In 2017 and 2018, companies were required to remit at least 50 percent of their CSR funds to tax authorities for the National CSR Foundation. The required contribution increased in 2019 to 75 percent for CSR funds set up on or after January 1, 2019. The NSIF is supposed to channel the money to NGO projects in priority areas identified by the government. These priority areas are poverty alleviation, educational support, social housing, family protection, people with severe disabilities, and victims of substance abuse. Further details can be found on the NSIF and MRA websites: https://www.nsif.mu  and https://www.mra.mu/download/CSRGuide.pdf .

9. Corruption

The prevalence of corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards, but graft and nepotism nevertheless remain concerns and are increasingly a source of public frustration. Several high-profile cases involving corruption have reinforced the perception that corruption exists at the highest political levels, despite the fact that Mauritian law provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials. According to Transparency Mauritius, the absence of a law regulating the financing of political parties fuels corruption. A former prime minister was arrested in 2015 on allegations of money laundering, though courts have since dismissed all charges. The state prosecutors appealed the last dismissal in late 2019 and court proceedings are ongoing, with the latest hearing held in February 2022. A minister in the previous government stepped down in 2016 after allegations of bribery. In March 2017, allegations surfaced concerning possible political interference in the Financial Services Commission’s issuance of an investment banking license to Angolan billionaire Alvaro Sobrinho, who is being investigated for alleged corruption in Portugal. In March 2018, the president of Mauritius resigned after press reported that she bought apparel, jewelry, and a laptop computer with a credit card provided by an NGO financed by the same Angolan businessman. In June 2020, the prime minister dismissed his deputy prime minister following allegations of bribery and corruption in a public energy contract. In February 2021, the minister of commerce stepped down amid allegations of corruption and abuse of power.

Investors should know that while the constitution and law require arrest warrants to be based on sufficient evidence and issued by a magistrate, police may detain an individual for up to 21 days under a “provisional charge” based on a reasonable suspicion, with the concurrence of a magistrate. Two French businessmen claimed that, in February 2015, authorities held them against their will. A U.S. investor has been unable to leave Mauritius since February 1, 2020, without charges filed against him.

In 2002, the government adopted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which led to the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). ICAC has the power to investigate corruption and money laundering offenses and can also seize the proceeds of corruption and money laundering. The director and board members of ICAC are nominated by the prime minister. The Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act of 2015 was announced as a measure to recover “unexplained wealth” and came into force in early 2016. Critics of the act dislike its presumption of guilt, which requires the accused to demonstrate a lawful source of questionable assets, as well as the application of the law retroactively for seven years. The 2018 Declaration of Assets Act (DoA) entered into force in June 2019 and defines which public officials are required to declare assets and liabilities to the ICAC. These public officials include members of the National Assembly, mayors, chairpersons and chief executive officers of state-owned enterprises and statutory bodies, among others. This declaration is published on the website of ICAC: https://www.icac.mu/declaration-of-assets/disclosure-of-declarations/ .

Mauritius’ rating by the Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International improved in 2021. The country was rated the 49th least-corrupt nation out of 180 countries, compared to 52nd in 2020 and 56th in 2019. However, Mauritius retained its first rank in overall governance in Africa for the 10th consecutive year, according to the 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

U.S. investors, in conversations with embassy personnel, have not identified corruption as an obstacle to investment in the country. They have, however, encountered attempts for bribery.

Although the country lacks laws on political party financing, Mauritius has legislation to combat corruption by public officials. These include laws dealing with the declaration of assets, asset recovery, prevention of corruption, anti-money laundering, and criminal offenses related to abuse of office by public officials.

However, legal loopholes exist, and enforcement is weak. Allegations of corruption and misallocation of government contracts by public entities occurred in 2020, namely the use of emergency procurement procedures during the pandemic to allegedly enrich friends and family of those in power.

According to Transparency Mauritius, more companies have introduced control and risk management protocols and adopted code of ethics and good business conduct, even if these do no target government officials. The Prevention of Corruption Act targets mainly the public sector, but there is no whistleblower protection law.

Mauritius has ratified the UNCAC, but has not yet adopted all the recommendations, such as the criminalization of corruption in the private sector. According to Transparency Mauritius, NGOs involved in fighting corruption are not given enough protection and funding.

Mexico

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Mexico’s private and public sectors have worked to promote and develop corporate social responsibility (CSR) during the past decade.  CSR in Mexico began as a philanthropic effort.  It has evolved gradually to a more holistic approach, trying to match international standards such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Global Compact.

Responsible business conduct reporting has made progress in the last few years with more companies developing a corporate responsibility strategy.  The government has also made an effort to implement CSR in state-owned companies such as Pemex, which has published corporate responsibility reports since 1999.  Recognizing the importance of CSR issues, the Mexican Stock Exchange (Bolsa Mexicana de Valores) launched a sustainable companies index, which allows investors to specifically invest in those companies deemed to meet internationally accepted criteria for good corporate governance.

In October 2017, Mexico became the 53rd member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which represents an important milestone in its Pemex effort to establish transparency and public trust in its energy sector.

9. Corruption

Corruption exists in many forms in the GOM and society, including corruption in the public sector (e.g., demand for bribes or kickbacks by government officials) and private sector (e.g., fraud, falsifying claims, etc.), as well as conflict of interest issues, which are not well defined in the Mexican legal framework.

Government and law enforcement officials are sometimes complicit with criminal elements, posing serious challenges for the rule of law.  Some of the most common reports of official corruption involve government officials stealing from public coffers, creating fake companies to divert public funds, or demanding bribes in exchange for not prosecuting criminal activity or awarding public contracts.  The current administration supported anti-corruption reforms (detailed below) and judicial proceedings in several high-profile corruption cases, including former governors.  However, Mexican civil society asserts that the government must take more systematic, effective, and frequent action to address corruption at the institutional level.

Mexico adopted a constitutional reform in 2014 to transform the current Office of the Attorney General into an Independent Prosecutor General’s office to increase its independence.  President Lopez Obrador’s choice for Prosecutor General was confirmed by the Mexican Senate January 18, 2019.  In 2015, Mexico passed a constitutional reform creating the National Anti-Corruption System (SNA) with an anti-corruption prosecutor and a citizens’ participation committee to oversee efforts.  The system is designed to provide a comprehensive framework for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of corruption cases, including delineating acts of corruption considered criminal acts under the law.  The legal framework establishes a basis for holding private actors and private firms legally liable for acts of corruption involving public officials and encourages private firms to develop internal codes of conduct.  After seven years of operation, commentators attribute few successes to the SNA.  The implementation status of the mandatory state-level anti-corruption legislation varies.

The reform mandated a redesign of the Secretariat of Public Administration to give it additional auditing and investigative functions and capacities in combatting public sector corruption.  Congress approved legislation to change economic institutions, assigning new responsibilities and in some instances creating new entities.  Reforms to the federal government’s structure included the creation of a General Coordination of Development Programs to manage the federal-state coordinators (“superdelegates”) in charge of federal programs in each state.  The law also created the Secretariat of Public Security and Citizen Protection, and significantly expanded the power of the president’s Legal Advisory Office (Consejería Jurídica) to name and remove each federal agency’s legal advisor and clear all executive branch legal reforms before their submission to Congress.  The law eliminated financial units from ministries, with the exception of the Secretariat of Finance, SEDENA, and SEMAR, and transferred control of contracting offices in other ministries to the Hacienda.  Separately, the law replaced the previous Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) with a Welfare Secretariat in charge of coordinating social policies, including those developed by other agencies such as health, education, and culture.  The Labor Secretariat gained additional tools to foster collective bargaining, union democracy, and to meet International Labor Organization (ILO) obligations.

Mexico ratified the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery and passed its implementing legislation in May 1999.  The legislation includes provisions making it a criminal offense to bribe foreign officials.  Mexico is also a party to the Organization of American States (OAS) Convention against Corruption and has signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  The government has enacted or proposed laws attacking corruption and bribery, with average penalties of five to 10 years in prison.

Mexico is a member of the Open Government Partnership and enacted a Transparency and Access to Public Information Act in 2015, which revised the existing legal framework to expand national access to information.  Transparency in public administration at the federal level improved noticeably but expanding access to information at the state and local level has been slow.  According to Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index, Mexico ranked 124 of 180 nations.  Civil society organizations focused on fighting corruption are high-profile at the federal level but are few in number and less powerful at the state and local levels.

Business representatives, including from U.S. firms, believe public funds are often diverted to private companies and individuals due to corruption and perceive favoritism to be widespread among government procurement officials.  The GAN Business Anti-Corruption Portal states compliance with procurement regulations by state bodies in Mexico is unreliable and that corruption is extensive, despite laws covering conflicts of interest, competitive bidding, and company blacklisting procedures.

The U.S. Embassy has engaged in a broad-based effort to work with Mexican agencies and civil society organizations in developing mechanisms to fight corruption and increase transparency and fair play in government procurement.  Efforts with specific business impact include government procurement best practices training and technical assistance under the U.S. Trade and Development Agency’s Global Procurement Initiative.  Mexico ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption in 2004.  It ratified the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 1999.

Micronesia

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is little awareness or definition of responsible business conduct (RBC) in the FSM.  However, most local businesses are small and generally responsive to the community in which they operate.  The two U.S.-based companies in the FSM generally follow RBC principles.  The host government does not promote RBC or factor it into evaluations for public contracts, nor does the country adhere to the convention on OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.

9. Corruption

The FSM has laws prohibiting corruption and there are penalties for corrupt acts.  The National Office of the Public Auditor, with support from the Department of Justice, is the entity most active in anti-corruption activities.  Several senior ex-FSM Government officials were convicted of corruption under the FSM Financial Management Act, usually involving procurement fraud.  An FSM government transportation official pled guilty April 3, 2019, in U.S. District Court to conspiring to launder bribe money he accepted from a U.S.-citizen president of a Honolulu civil engineering company.  The official was then-FSM President Christian’s son-in-law who served 18 months in prison in the United States and was subsequently deported back to the FSM in 2021.  Corruption is not a predicate offense under the money laundering statute.  Bribery is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years in addition to disqualification from holding any government position.  Traditional custom permits a lawbreaker to ask and receive forgiveness by paying a fine to those victimized.  Given many FSM national, state, and municipal government officials also own businesses, there exists significant potential for conflicts of interest.

The degree to which government officials accept direct bribes is unknown but believed to be commonplace, especially deriving from state actors.  Pohnpei State and Yap State are currently prosecuting corruption cases. The Yap State governor and lieutenant governor reported receiving cash envelopes in inauguration presents which they promptly handed to Yap State’s Acting Attorney General who conducted an investigation.  The FSM has not signed or ratified the UN Convention on Corruption or the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Moldova

8. Responsible Business Conduct

While Moldovan legislation deals with issues pertaining to environment, workers’ rights, social fairness or governance, there is little awareness of the concept of the due diligence approach to ensuring responsible business conduct. The country’s corporate culture and private sector are still at an early stage of development and still seeking to define the nature of interactions between private business, government authorities, broader stakeholders, and the public at large. There is no governmental policy to encourage enterprises to follow OECD or UN Guidelines in this area.

Foreign companies operating in Moldova are gradually introducing the concept of corporate social responsibility as an aspect of responsible business conduct. AmCham Moldova has set a leading example, with its corporate members engaging in a forestation project, in the rehabilitation of medical facilities, and in Christmas collection projects for orphanages. The COVID pandemic prompted many businesses to make donations of personal protection equipment and meals to frontline workers.

Moldova is among countries where children engage in the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Children also engage in child labor in agriculture. Moldova is not a signatory of the Montreux Document of the Private Military and Security Companies.

9. Corruption

While Moldova has taken steps to adopt European and international standards to combat corruption and organized crime, corruption remains a major problem.

Since winning a majority in Parliament in July 2021 elections, the ruling Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) has focused on several facets of the fight against corruption. The government has replaced or suspended under-performing or corrupt officials. In its first months in office, the government increased transparency regarding beneficial ownership by offshore interests, amended the constitution to increase judicial independence, enacted investment screening legislation, passed a bill to vet judicial and prosecutorial oversight bodies for integrity issues, and implemented measures to increase accountability in the Prosecutor General’s office. A Constitutional Court ruling allowed for confiscation of unjustified assets from government officials with a lower burden of proof. The government announced plans to implement extraordinary vetting of judges and prosecutors, and reform anti-corruption agencies.

In 2012-13, the government enacted a series of anti-corruption amendments. This package included new legislation on “integrity testing” related to a disciplinary liability law for judges. It also extended confiscation and illicit enrichment statutes in the Moldovan Criminal Code as per the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). The Constitutional Court subsequently restricted integrity testing (e.g., excluding random testing as “entrapment”), but enactment of these reforms substantially augmented Moldova’s corruption-fighting toolkit.

The National Anticorruption Center (NAC), created in 2012, focuses on investigating public corruption and bribery crimes, and is subordinated to the Parliament (the CCECC had been organized under the executive branch). Moldovan judges, who had previously enjoyed full immunity from corruption investigations, can now be prosecuted for crimes of corruption without prior permission from their self-governing body, although the Superior Council of Magistrates still must approve any search or arrest warrant against a judge.

The government has developed and enacted a series of laws designed to address legislative gaps such as the Law on Preventing and Combating Corruption, the Law on Conflict of Interests, and the Law on the Code of Conduct for Public Servants. The Criminal Code criminalizes two forms of public sector corruption: passive and active. These statutes apply only to corrupt acts and bribery committed by public officials. In 2016, part of the reform of the prosecution system, Moldova adopted the Law on the Prosecution Service, and created two specialized prosecution agencies – the Anticorruption Prosecution Office (APO) and the Prosecution Office for Combating Organized Crime and Special Cases (PCCOCS). Beginning in 2015, specialized prosecution offices began to investigate and prosecute individuals allegedly involved in the “billion dollar” banking theft and a series of high-profile bribery, corruption, and tax evasion cases, though with only limited progress. These offices face multiple challenges, including lack of independent budgets, high workload, external interference, and serious questions about their independence, transparency and impartiality.

In 2018, APO and PCCOCS started recruitment for seconding investigators to their offices. According to the 2016 prosecution reform law, these investigators are responsible for supporting prosecutors to investigate complex corruption cases. However, even with a nearly full complement of seconded investigators, APO still relies on NAC investigators to conduct many corruption-related investigations and prosecutions. In 2018, a new statutorily created agency, the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency (CARA), began operating as a specialized unit within NAC. The selection and appointment of the agency’s leadership is coordinated through a competitive process by the NAC.

In 2016, Parliament passed the Law on the National Integrity Authority (NIA) and the Law on Disclosure of Assets and Conflict of Interest by public officials. The NIA became operational in 2018. The director, deputy director, and all inspectors are hired in competitive processes, but the agency has not yet hired a full complement of inspectors. NIA continues to lack staff and sufficient resources to fulfill its mission. The issuance of “integrity certificates” to individuals with well-known ties to the billion-dollar heist further degraded the organization’s reputation. The transparency and efficiency of NIA needs further improvement.

Moldova’s 2017-2020 National Integrity and Anticorruption Strategy was drafted and passed following public consultations and is structured along the “integrity pillars” concept that aims to strengthen the integrity climate among civil servants at all levels. It includes a role for civil society organizations (CSOs) through alternative monitoring reports and promoting integrity standards in the private sector. The strategy addresses the complexity of corruption by employing sector-based experts to evaluate specific integrity problems encountered by different vulnerable sectors of public administration. The deadline for the strategy had to be extended as many actions were not implemented.

Moldovan law requires private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit corruption and corrupt behavior. Moldova’s Criminal Code also includes articles addressing private sector corruption, combatting economic crime, criminal responsibility of public officials, active and passive corruption, and trading of influence. This largely aligns Moldovan statutory law with international anti-bribery standards by criminalizing the acts of promising, offering, or giving a bribe to a public official. Anticorruption laws also extend culpability to family members. A new illicit enrichment law allows a simplified procedure for unjustified asset confiscation. The Anticorruption Prosecution Office has initiated three illicit enrichment cases against judges to date.

The country has laws regulating conflicts of interest in awarding contracts and the government procurement process; however these laws are not assessed as widely or effectively enforced. In 2016, Parliament added two new statutes to the Criminal Code criminalizing the misuse of international assistance funds. These provisions provide a statutory basis for prosecutors to investigate and prosecute misuse of international donor assistance by Moldovan public officials in public acquisitions, technical assistance programs, and grants.

Despite the established anticorruption framework, the number of anticorruption prosecutions has not met international expectations (given corruption perceptions), and enforcement of existing legislation is widely deemed insufficient. In 2021, Moldova ranked 105 out of 180 (from 115 the prior year) among countries evaluated in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index.

In 2021, Moldova ranked 105 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Opinion polls show the fight against corruption is a top priority for the Moldovan public. The 2021 edition of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index elevated Moldova from the “hybrid regime” to “flawed democracy” category with an overall score of 6.10, the first upgrade since 2017. Moldova’s score jumped from 5.78 to 6.10 thanks to “improvements in the functioning of the government and in political participation,” with scores of 7.0 for electoral process and pluralism (on a scale of 0 to 8), 6.76 for civil liberties, 6.67 for political participation, 5.71 for functioning of government, and 4.38 for democratic political culture. Moldova rose 11 positions and is now ranked 69 out of 167 countries. The Freedom House Moldova “Nations in Transit Report” 2021 noted the commitment by President Sandu to implementing anti-corruption policies, which she had begun to do during a brief period as PM in 2019. Public competitions have been mostly non-transparent and based on controversial regulations or political loyalty to, or membership in, the ruling political group, rather than on the basis of merit. The investigation into the “billion-dollar” banking sector has been progressing relatively slowly despite the government’s renewed efforts to persecute the organizers. Official data reported that as of March 2022, only USD 187 million has been recovered, mainly from taxes, credits, and the sale of assets belonging to the three banks liquidated following the theft. The stolen assets have not been recovered, there remains no assurance that significant remaining funds will be recovered.

Freedom House’s most recent report, Democracy in Retreat: Freedom in the World 2021, found Moldova continues to be only “partially free,” earning 62.5/100 points for political rights/civil liberties. Its overall score has increased by 0.5 point, primarily because of an improvement in the tax burden score. Moldova is ranked 41st among 45 countries in the Europe region, and its overall score is below the regional average but above the world average. The Moldovan economy remains in the moderately free category. Economic freedom is constrained by post-Soviet Moldova’s ongoing vulnerability to corruption, political uncertainty, weak administrative capacity, vested bureaucratic interests, a rigid labor code, and dependence on energy imports. The rule of law in particular remains very weak, especially in the judicial system.

Opinion surveys conducted by reputable pollsters like the International Republican Institute (IRI) show that a majority of Moldovans see corruption as a major problem for the country, though it ranks below other economic issues. Perceptions of corruption improved between 2019 and 2021, with fewer numbers of respondents in 2021 saying they had paid a bribe in the past 12 months or had been impacted personally by corruption. Respondents were by far most likely to be asked for a bribe by health care professionals, followed by education and the police officials.

In 2007, Moldova ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, subsequently adopting amendments to its domestic anticorruption legislation. Moldova does not adhere to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery. However, Moldova is part of two regional anticorruption initiatives: the Stability Pact Anticorruption Initiative for South East Europe (SPAI), and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe. Moldova cooperates closely with the OECD through SPAI and with GRECO, especially on country evaluations. In 1999, Moldova signed the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and Civil Law Convention on Corruption. Moldova ratified both conventions in 2003. In 2020, Moldova joined OECD’s Istanbul Anticorruption Action Plan.

Moldova is one of the participating countries in the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ACN), a driver of anticorruption reforms in the region.

In October 2020, Moldova’s second Compliance Report, adopted by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) in the fourth round of evaluation, concluded the current level of compliance of Moldova with the GRECO recommendations is generally insufficient. Following the evaluation, 18 recommendations were addressed to Moldova. Subsequently, out of 18 recommendations, four were rated as satisfactorily treated or implemented, and 10 were partially implemented, and four remain unimplemented.

Mongolia

8. Responsible Business Conduct 

The practice of responsible business conduct (RBC) in Mongolia has improved.  Most international companies make good-faith efforts to work with local communities.  Larger domestic firms tend to follow accepted international responsible business conduct practices and underwrite a range of related activities, while smaller companies, lacking resources, often limit responsible business conduct actions to the locales in which they work.  Locally, firms adopting responsible business conduct are perceived favorably by the communities in which they operate.  Nationally, responses range from praise from politicians to condemnation by certain civil-society groups alleging responsible business conduct nothing more than a cynical attempt to buy public approval.  Public awareness of responsible business conduct is limited, with only a few NGOs involved in responsible business conduct promotion or monitoring, and those concentrated on such large private-sector projects as the Oyu Tolgoi mega-mine, while shying away from state-owned entities.

Given Mongolia’s high social media penetration, businesses should be aware that discussions regarding their activities could be ongoing on international and domestic social media sites; and should monitor social media discussions to ensure their activities are portrayed accurately.

The government attempts to enforce legislation on human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protection, and other laws protecting individuals from adverse business impacts.  While the Company Law articulates rules of corporate governance, accounting requirements, and shareholder rights, it has no rules for executive compensation.

Mongolia has no official position on OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas and no domestic legislation on due diligence for companies sourcing minerals originating from conflict-affected areas.  The government has not adopted the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UN principles on responsible business conduct:   http://www.oecd.org/about/ ).  Mongolia is a member in good standing of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative ( EITI ).

There have been no alleged/reported human or labor rights concerns relating to RBC of which foreign businesses should be aware.  However, businesses should be aware that a disorganized system for granting and enforcing use rights for land, timber, water, and mining assets has given rise to the perception among local communities that central, provincial, and municipal governments are improperly granting rights in contravention to local customs and statutes.

Mongolia has a private security industry, and many public and private entities avail themselves of private security services.  However, Mongolia has neither signed the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies nor supports the International Code of Conduct or Private Security Service Providers (ICoCA).

9. Corruption 

Investors have acknowledged that corruption is widespread in Mongolia, leading some to curtail additional investments or to exit Mongolia entirely.  Given the level of corruption, U.S. businesses are advised to be especially diligent in complying with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Although Mongolian law penalizes corrupt officials, the government does not always implement the law effectively or evenhandedly.  Private enterprises report instances where officials and political operatives demand bribes to transfer-use rights, settle disputes, clear customs, ease tax obligations, act on applications, obtain permits, and complete registrations.  NGOs and private businesses report judicial corruption is also present.  Factors contributing to corruption include conflicts of interest, lack of transparency, limited access to information, an underfunded civil-service system, low salaries, and limited government control of key institutions.

Mongolia does not require companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials.  U.S. and other foreign businesses have reported that they accept the need for and have adopted internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.  (For Mongolia anti-corruption efforts:   https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/mongolia/.

The Independent Agency Against Corruption (IAAC) has primary responsibility for investigating corruption, assisted at times by the National Police Agency’s Organized Crime Division.

Mongolia has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention ( UNAC ) but not the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.

Montenegro

8. Responsible Business Conduct

While there are several good examples of companies undertaking responsible business conduct (RBC) in Montenegro, practices are still developing and are not adopted evenly across the private sector. The government, together with various business organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the international community, organizes events in order to promote and encourage RBC. Since last year, efforts have focused on introducing the RBC concept in the education system. The promotion of RBC through the media has also been used as an effective tool as the media can play a pivotal role in raising awareness about RBC initiatives.

The concept of corporate social responsibility (a term that preceded RBC) features regularly on the agenda of many companies in Montenegro. The most recent survey showed that large private companies and associations are, indeed, more engaged in RBC activities, whereas small companies cited the lack of knowledge about RBC and the lack of support and interest from clients as the main reasons for not participating.

9. Corruption

Corruption and the perception of corruption are significant problems in Montenegro’s public and private sectors.  Corruption routinely places high on the list of citizen concerns in opinion polls, in addition to risks cited by foreign investors.  Montenegro placed 64th out of 180 countries in the Transparency International (TI) 2021 Corruption Perception Index list. An improved legal framework to help combat corruption and organized crime has been in force since the adoption of the Law on Prevention of Corruption in 2014 and the Law on the Special State Prosecution in 2015.  The government has also taken substantial steps to strengthen the Rule of Law, including the establishment of a special police unit focused on corruption and organized crime, the creation of an Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, the creation of a new independent Office of the Special State Prosecutor that handles major cases including organized crime and corruption, and the appointment of the Chief Special State Prosecutor.  In line with these laws, the Special Prosecution, the Special Police Team, and the Agency for Prevention of Corruption became operational in 2015 and 2016.

In 2015, Montenegro’s Parliament adopted the Law on the Confiscation of Proceeds from Criminal Activities, which provides for expanded procedures for the freezing, seizure, and confiscation of illicit proceeds.  It also authorizes the creation of multi-disciplinary financial investigation teams.  In February 2019, a multi-institutional operational team for fight against commercial crime was founded. The Head of Crime Police presides over the team, and it consists of representatives of the police, Customs Authority, Tax Authority, and Administration for Inspection Affairs. A focus of t