Written by 11 h 16 min Advocacy, Corruption and embezzlement advocacy, Press release-en

Is France doing its best to fight foreign bribery?

Paris, 28 October 2014 – Two years after the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recommendations about the corruption of foreign public officials, Sherpa and Anticor, as well as the OECD Working Group, are questioning the means implemented by the courts to fight this scourge.

Although 24 new corruption cases of foreign public officials have been opened over the past two years, “to this day, no French company has yet been convicted for foreign bribery in France, whereas French companies have been convicted abroad for that offence”. [1]

However, France has committed to implementing the 33 recommendations made by the Working Group in 2012 and to reforming its penal system. Besides that, significant progress was made last year with the adoption of laws on tax evasion and serious financial crimes. [2] While there have been significant reforms, how do we explain that this legal arsenal has not yet been fully implemented?

The problems faced by the Alstom group are emblematic. The group has been accused or investigated in several countries for bribing foreign public officials (the United States, Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Brazil, etc.). However, despite the Swiss authorities supplying information from 2006 onwards and the French parent company, particularly the International Network [3], playing a direct role in the commission of the offence, the Public Prosecutor’s Office closed the case. The geographical and financial extent of the corruption allegations raises big questions about the lack of proceedings in France. But this does not only involve the Alstom case. Other cases show this same lack of ambition about the prosecutions.

The persisting inaction of France regarding the bribery of foreign public officials shows a real discrepancy between the political will to reform justice and the concrete action that is taken, despite recently strengthened legal measures. It is of the utmost importance to implement these measures in light of economic and financial international offences. Sherpa and Anticor encourage France to step up its efforts to fight the bribery of foreign public officials, to pursue reforms and to implement the set of recommendations made by the Working Group, including reforming the defence secrecy and ensuring the independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office so that it can fulfil its missions without any outside political influence.


[2]For instance, the recognition of the right of action regarding approved anti-corruption organisations, the establishment of a national financial Public Prosecutor’s Office and the strengthening of whistleblowers protection. http://www.asso-sherpa.org/lois-fraude-fiscale-avancees-minimalistes/#.VE538Baaopo
[3] Criminal order of 22 November 2011, Attorney General of Switzerland

For more information: presse@asso-sherpa.org

Last modified: 14 April 2023