"Our anti-corruption is a continuous process," says Danish anti-corruption watchdog chief

12:29, August 22, 2010      

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Denmark, alongside with Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, was applauded for their efforts to enforce a ban on foreign bribery in the 2010 Progress Report on the OECD Anti-bribery Convention released days ago by Transparency International.

Xinhua had an interview this week with Carl Christian Hasselbalch, a senior CSR (company social responsibility) and anti-corruption advisor with the Danish foreign ministry, to learn more about Danish laws and systems, and its experience in combating corruption.

"According to the defination by Danish international development agency, corruption is the 'misuse of entrusted power for private gain'," Hasselbalch said, "and this definition corresponds to the conception of corruption in the Danish Penal Code and in many international conventions."

"Bribery, fraud of agents, extortion, favoritism are the four most common forms of corruption. Corruption leads to increasing costs, uncertainty of investments, blackmail, and the loss of contracts. Therefore, it is crucial to develop and follow a specific corruption policy to protect the companies from corruption," Hasselbalch added.

Under Danish laws, bribing officials (active bribery) is a criminal offense, including the bribery of foreign public officials; receiving bribes by officials, including foreign public officials, is an act of passive bribery. Corruption in connection with private legal relations (kickbacks) is also prohibited.

According to Hasselbalch, the main international conventions in anti- corruption area include the UN anti-corruption convention, the OECD (Orgnisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, and the Council of Europe Corruption Convention.

The UN anti-corruption convention model preventive policies, such as the establishment of anti-corruption bodies and enhanced transparency in the financing of election campaigns and political parties.

The OECD Convention is a global ban on bribery in international business transactions, which covers active bribery of officials.

The Council of Europe Corruption Convention prohibits both active and passive bribery. The Convention covers both corruption among officials and private.

"In the new global corruption report, Denmark are in the list of top 3 least corrupt countries, only ranking after New zealand, and corruption do rarely happens in public sector; however, that doesn't mean we don't have corruption," Hasselbalch said.

"As a matter of fact, some companies are just waiting for some favorable opportunities. So it requires us to keep improving our anti -- corruption laws," he added.

Hasselbalch cited the KMD bribery case as a case to illustrate his points.

KMD is the main provider of IT services to the Danish municipalities and others, and is owned by the municipalities country association. Since 2005, KMD would invite municipal top officials on expensive trips to wonderful places such as New Zealand, Singapore and Australia in the name of developing market, and KMD was responsible for the content, entertainment and meals. The case was exposed in 2009, and is now under trial.

"KMD's activities wouldn't be viewed as a criminal offense 12 years ago. On the contrary, 30 percent of the business entertainment cost of a company could be exempt from taxation back then," Hasselbalch said.

"The Danish government ratifies 'the EU directive on public procurement' from 2004," he said. "Since then a company can not deduct expenses which have been used to bribe officials in the criminal law sense."

The Danish government also launched a Zero-Tolerance Policy in 2010 toward corruption in overseas business development.

"The overall targets of this policy is to prevent corruption within Danish companies abroad as well as overseas programs and projects, where Danish companies involved," said Hasselbalch.

In 2005, seven Danish companies was caught up in the UN Oil-for-food scandal, including Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk, Pharmaceutical company Leo Pharma, water and gas supply and treatment company AVK Holding.

The Oil-for-Food Program was established by the UN in 1995 to enable Iraq to sell its oil for humanitarian purposes. Starting at the beginning in 2000, the former Iraqi government required companies wishing to sell humanitarian goods to government ministries to pay a kickback to the government in order to be granted a contract. The amount of that fee was around 10 percent of the contract price.

In 2009, under the efforts of the trade council of Denmark, six of the seven Danish companies agreed to pay a total of 45 million Danish Krones (around 8 million U.S. dollars) for violations relating to the UN Oil-for-Food Program scandal.

"Last year, we only be evaluated moderately enforcing the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, but this year we advanced from moderate to active enforcement. We will stay on the top in our continuing efforts," said Hasselbalch.

Source: Xinhua


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