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How can we compensate the victims of bribery?

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In early 2009, the U.S.-based multinational Halliburton paid $579 million to the U.S. government to settle charges it had bribed Nigerian officials to win a contract.  In late 2008 the German telecommunications giant Siemens paid $1.6 billion in fines, penalties and disgorgement of profits to the German and American governments for bribing officials. 

None of the monies paid by either Siemens or Halliburton went to the countries where the bribes were paid. Some, like Sir Richard Alderman, Director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office feel strongly that the settlement money should compensate the victims of corruption. 

The current lack of implementation of the framework outlined in articles 55 and 57 of the United Nations Concention Against Corruption for resolving transnational corruption cases involving potential confiscation or disgorgement remedies compounds the problem.

In addition, the potential lack of coordination of international proceedings  creates the possibility that companies will pay twice for the same offense, once to the government where they are headquartered and a second time to countries victimized by their bribery.  As a result, some fear that  foreign investment could suffer as a result of enforcement of foreign corrupt practices legislation.


Jean Pierre Brun

Senior Financial Sector Specialist

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