Firms to Draft Anti-bribery Plan Under OECD

Companies operating internationally will be required to prepare a plan to combat bribery in overseas deals, the 38 countries party to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention agreed at a meeting in Paris last week.

The decision will affect Israeli companies, particularly those competing to win foreign government tenders.

According to foreign reports, Israeli defense companies have allegedly bribed foreign officials in the past to win tenders. However, this phenomenon occurs in other industries as well, an official from the Manufacturers Association recently admitted.

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court rejected a company's appeal to have a foreign bribe recognized as a tax-deductible expense. However, Justice Salim Joubran agreed with the company that the practice should be banned if it is not acceptable.

Israel joined the OECD bribery convention a year ago.

Starting this month, the OECD Working Group on Bribery - which includes representatives of 38 countries, including Israel - will begin supervising companies' progress in formulating ethics guidelines for conducting international business.

"Too few companies are aware of how damaging foreign bribery is to their business, their industry and the world economy," said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria. "Bribery distorts everyone's ability to compete in a global market."

Under the OECD plan, companies need to formulate a clear anti-bribery policy supported by the upper ranks, and instill workers with a sense of responsibility.