Israel hasn't dealt with any case or opened any investigation on foreign bribery since signing the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions three years ago, according to a report published Wednesday by the global anti-corruption monitoring group Transparency International.
The report, measuring enforcement of the anti-bribery convention, ranks Israel 34th among 37 countries surveyed making up 63% of world trade, and one of eight countries taking absolutely no enforcement measures in 2011.
To put this in perspective, the number of cases opened in convention countries by the end of 2011 was 708, with 144 ending in convictions, and 234 investigations are currently underway. According to OECD data, 66 people received prison sentences while 250 individuals and about 100 companies had sanctions imposed on them.
Leading the list is the U.S. with 257 cases of alleged bribery, followed by Germany with 176.
The report points out that Israel Police had been involved in a bribery case centered in the U.S. that the U.S. Department of Justice subsequently dropped.
It also cites investigations in India into alleged bribery by Israeli defense establishment officials, including one involving Israel Aerospace Industries which denied any wrongdoing. None, however, resulted in any criminal charges, apparently because the alleged crimes took place before the law took effect in Israel.
Israel Military Industries, meanwhile, has been reported as blacklisted by India from doing business there for 10 years and is preparing to appeal the measure.
The Justice Ministry instituted legislation, increased penalties and is conducting informational conferences, but the police and State Attorney's Office aren't enforcing the law or initiating any investigations," said Galia Sagy, head of Transparency International's branch in Israel. "The secretary general of the OECD wisecracked last year that Israel is apparently an excellent country without any bribery.
"Israel Police claims that often there isn't any cooperation from involved authorities abroad but, considering the hundreds of investigations being conducted around the world, there apparently is a mechanism for cooperation," said Sagy.
"I hear claims that it's happening far away and therefore doesn't really concern us, and that there's no other way to conduct business abroad."
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