What happens to public officials who take bribes?
What happens to public officials who take bribes?
December 2018

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is the foremost global legal instrument for fighting the supply side of foreign bribery. The supply side of foreign bribery relates to what bribers do it involves offering, promising or giving a bribe to a foreign public official to obtain an improper advantage in international business. In contrast, the demand side of foreign bribery refers to the offence committed by public officials who are bribed by foreign persons.

This study explores whether there is a "flip side" to enforcement actions that ended in sanctions for the supply-side of a foreign bribery transaction.  It focuses on what happened on the receiving end of this transaction. That is to say, were the public officials in the demand-side country also sanctioned or otherwise disciplined?

Key findings
Public officials accepting bribes from OECD-based companies run little risk of being punished. In only one fifth of the 55 concluded foreign bribery cases examined were formal sanctions imposed on one or more public officials.
International co-operation is not a major source of detection for demand-side cases with none of the enforcement actions in the survey being detected through direct communications with supply-side enforcement authorities.
The media play a major role. In addition to informing the general public, they serve as an intermediary in the international flow of information between the supply-side and demand-side enforcement authorities.