The UK parliament’s new report on the Bribery Bill is an important step forward towards long-overdue legislation against corporate bribery overseas, says international churches development agency Christian Aid.
"The Joint Committee’s report reinforces the urgency with which the government need to pass the Bill through parliament," says Adele Poskitt, Christian Aid’s Senior Governance Advisor.
"Some UK firms have for many years fought off proposals for an effective law banning them from corrupting foreign officials and individuals.
"But corporate bribery is extremely harmful to developing countries because it causes decisions to be made in favour of private interests rather than in the public interest, with terrible consequences. Bribery and corruption kill the poorest and most vulnerable people in society."
Christian Aid believes that if the Bill is to be effective, the Government must commit sufficient resources to ensure that offending firms are prosecuted and punished for their crimes.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) conservatively estimates that multinational companies pay bribes totaling US $80 billion each year.
In addition to this huge cost, bribery can lead to loss of investment and reduction in tax revenues. It undermines public services and democracy, increases the cost of consumer goods and hits the poor hardest.