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Corruption laws to be strengthened

Fighting corruption: Bermuda is to beef up its laws

Bermuda’s laws are to be beefed up to clamp down on bribery and corruption.

A special committee set up to recommend changes in the law last week published an information paper to keep the country in line with international standards.

And new bribery offences are set to be introduced, modelled on UK legislation, to crack down on the giving and taking of bribes.

Proposed new laws would also create an offence of bribery of foreign public officials and the criminal liability of commercial organisations for failure to prevent bribery, as well as a requirement for commercial organisations to issue guidance on the prevention of bribery.

The report by the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee said: “As part of an ongoing effort by the Bermuda Government to maintain the island’s status as a clean and reputable business jurisdiction, significant work has been done over the years to update and enhance Bermuda’s anti-money laundering and antiterrorist financing legislative framework.

“However, there remain outstanding issue in relation to the gaps identified by the competent authorities with regard to Bermuda’s adherence to the Financial Action Task Force requirements.”

The NAMLC report added: “Corruption is recognised as one of the world’s major problems and for many countries it is at the heart of poor economic performance.

“Major features where corruption is prevalent are lack of government accountability and transparency, as well as significant losses in government resources due to deficiencies in public procurement systems and processes.

“More importantly, its most destructive effects are often felt in the lives of those who are already disadvantaged in societies.”

The discussion paper said that the UN Convention Against Corruption also required the island to overhaul its rules on public procurement and finances to ensure transparency and proper accounting records.

It added: “UNCAC also requires jurisdictions to take measures to address consequences of corruption.

“Thus, legislative provisions will have be brought into force to mandate the recission of contracts and revocation of licences that are created as a result of corrupt practices.

“Co-operation between national authorities and the private sector is also an UNCAC requirement.

“Legislative provisions may therefore be required to empower national authorities to appropriately co-operate with the private sector or establish other relevant means of compliance in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption offences.”

The report added that Government is already drafting instructions to strengthen the legal framework on bribery and corruption and that a consultation draft bill is expected to be tabled in July for review and comments by affected parties.

Anyone interested in commenting on the proposed legislation should contact the Office of the National Anti-Money Laundering Committee, 4th Floor, Global House, 43 Church Street, Hamilton, or by e-mail at info-NAMLC@gov.bm.