We are delighted to present the fourth edition of the CMS Guide to Anti-Bribery and Corruption Laws. Since the last edition was published in 2014, there have been significant changes to the global anti-corruption landscape. Many of the countries covered in the following pages have updated, strengthened and widened the scope of their anti-corruption laws.
This edition of the Guide assesses the laws in over 60 offices globally and includes full coverage of the BRIC nations, as well as increased coverage in Asia (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia), the Middle East (the UAE and Lebanon) and South America (Mexico). This edition also includes coverage of Turkey.
We are very grateful to Khaitan & Co., the leading Indian law firm with offices in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, for their continued contribution to the Guide. We are also very grateful to Rajah & Tann Asia (a transnational law firm, with offices across Asia) for contributing chapters on Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. We continue to work closely with both firms in their regions.
Since the last edition of the Guide, tales of corruption have been almost a daily occurrence in the global press – with the Arab Spring (in part a mass response to corruption), FIFA and Brazilian “Car Wash” scandals to name but a few, highlighting that corruption can exist in many forms across many industries, sectors and jurisdictions, sometimes operating unchecked for many years at huge cost and harm. With unprecedented levels of press and public scrutiny, coupled with an ever-hardening attitude towards corruption, it is unsurprising that many countries are strengthening their existing laws and enforcement mechanisms and increasing the potential sanctions for wrongdoing, in an attempt to deter unethical behaviour.
As an example, the Netherlands undertook a major revision of its anti-corruption law in 2015, resulting in a widening of the existing offences (e.g. to capture a promise of a bribe, whether or not fulfilled) and an increase to the maximum penalties that can be imposed (up to eight years’ imprisonment for individuals in some cases). We have also seen similar reforms in Portugal, where the mere attempt to give or promise of an improper benefit is now sufficient to trigger criminal liability. In Ukraine, the law has been reformed to permit corporate liability for corruption offences, where previously only individuals could be liable.
Of the 26 countries covered by the previous edition of the Guide, at least five have undertaken significant reforms of their anti-corruption laws since 2014 (the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine), with a further nine countries having increased the penalties available for breaches (Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia).
As for the new countries covered, it is interesting to see the different approaches taken, even within regions, to combatting corruption. For example, in Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand), only one of the countries covered (Singapore) criminalises private sector bribery and the penalties across the relevant countries range significantly from a maximum of five years’ imprisonment (for a bribe-payer in Thailand) to life imprisonment (for a public official recipient in Indonesia) or the death penalty (for a public official recipient in Thailand).
On the other hand, the UAE and Lebanon are much more closely aligned in their approach – both have public and private sector bribery offences (albeit that the scope of the private sector offences are less extensive than those applicable to the public sector). Both countries also provide a defence where the bribe-payer notifies the authorities of the bribe before it otherwise comes to their attention.