Nicola Sharp of business crime specialists Rahman Ravelli is in little doubt that there is a need for concerted action.
Using France’s landmark Sapin II legislation as a model for European Union-wide anti-corruption efforts has been proposed by a highly-regarded legal think tank.
The Club des Juristes, a French organisation of legal experts headed by former Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, has stated in a report to the European Commission that the European Union (EU) needs a comprehensive and coherent anti-corruption policy as soon as possible. It recommends a closer alignment of EU member states’ anti-corruption laws, with France’s anti-bribery legislation being used as the starting point.
The Sapin ll law – named after its creator, the former French finance minister - came into effect three years ago. It led to the formation of the French anti-corruption agency AFA, made compliance systems compulsory for companies doing business in the country and introduced judicial public interest agreements (CJIPs); France’s equivalent of deferred prosecution agreements.
The Club des Juristes wants to see an EU directive ordering member states to bring in laws with extraterritorial reach that criminalise active and passive private sector corruption, as is the case with Sapin. This would make it possible for EU states to investigate corruption linked to their country even if it crosses borders, as is the case with the UK’s Bribery Act and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
It has been the opinion of many for some time that the EU needs a clear and consistent anti-corruption policy that applies to all member states. This latest proposal pays quite a compliment to the French legislation. This is understandable when it is considered that Sapin II made France one of only a few countries to insist on compliance systems as a legal requirement for companies working within its borders.
Using such a system across the EU should, in principle, make European anti-corruption efforts more robust and effective. At the very least, a uniform approach will be an improvement on the varied and inconsistent responses to corruption that are currently seen, with differing standards existing in each country. But regardless of what, if anything, happens with this proposal, there still needs to be a focus on those countries where the appropriate attention is not already being given to tackling corruption.