OECD urges Greece to tackle bribery of foreign officials

Greece has made some headway in tackling rampant graft at home but needs urgently to crack down on bribes paid to foreign public officials aimed at winning contracts overseas, the OECD said in a report on Friday.

Fighting corruption is a priority for Greece’s new leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, who promised EU partners in overnight talks in Brussels that he would present a full set of economic reforms in order to unlock cash Athens needs to stave off bankruptcy.

“Greece has made efforts to tackle domestic corruption in the country but it needs to give much higher priority to fighting foreign bribery,” the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said in its report.

The Paris-based organization defines foreign bribery as offering or giving undue financial advantage, directly or through intermediaries, to a foreign public official to win or keep business or for improper advantage in any other business.

The government should target the export, shipping and small and medium-sized business sectors, the report added.

Last week Athens signed an accord with the OECD under which the multi-national body will provide know-how on designing and implementing government reforms needed to help persuade the EU to renegotiate Greece’s 240 billion-euro bailout package.

Tax evasion remains endemic in Greece, which has been under its EU/IMF bailout program since 2010, and successive governments have failed to break the grip of special interest groups on the economy.

The OECD report urged Greece to do more to proactively detect foreign bribery cases, saying most allegations that led to investigations had not been detected by Greek authorities.

While Greece has seven foreign bribery investigations underway, involving construction, lottery and tobacco contracts, among others, other allegations have not led to investigations, it said.

It cited the example of a possible foreign bribery case involving a Greek individual who operated a fictional enterprise receiving EU funds and who allegedly bribed an EU official.

“Questions remain over Greece’s capacity to handle complex economic and corruption cases,” the report added. [Reuters]

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