India’s soft against foreign bribery: Report

  • India ranks lowest among non-OECD countries in terms of ‘little or no enforcement’ against exporting corruption.
  • While India hasn’t conducted any investigations into foreign bribery, Indian entities have come under scrutiny from other governments.
  • While the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Companies Act 2013 to address corruption, there is no targeted legislation against foreign bribery.
A report by Transparency International Global found that India is a part of 22 countries with ‘little or no enforcement’ against exporting corruption. The report specifically mentions China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore as countries with the worst performance on the index. This is particularly worrisome since cumulatively these countries account for over 2% of world exports.

Data dive

The report shows how over the period of 2014 to 2017, there have been no foreign bribery cases filed or investigations conducted. That being said, the report also highlights that while the Indian government may not have been vigilant, Indian entities and individuals have been investigated by foreign governments in connection to alleged bribery charges.

Even if there have been investigations conducted, it’s impossible to know because the authorities do not disclose any such information publically or on request. It’s also unclear whether there’s a dedicated system in place to collect data on foreign bribery within the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Ignoring policy

Back in 2015, the Indian Law Commission did submit a report to the Indian government proposing changes to how foreign bribery cases are addressed. The draft bill included recommendations like including a prison sentence of up to seven years and higher sanctions.

Come 2018, that bill has never made it to the parliament for a vote. That being said, the parliament did pass the Prevention of Corruption Act in July that covered foreign firms working in India.

Even so, foreign bribery is yet to be exclusively criminalised. Even the Companies Act 2013 takes bribery into account but has several loopholes and vague articles that can be easily circumvented.


In addition to analysing the issue of foreign bribery, the report also suggests how the problem can be countered. One of those measures is initiating enforcement against foreign bribery and adjoining offences in line with the UN Convention against Corruption. Effective legislation should be put in place to protect whistleblowers in the private sector.

And, in order for implementation to be effective, India should also publish the data and enforcement results of these case resolutions.

It has also been recommended that the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development - Working Group on Bribery (OECD-WGB) execute efforts to persuade India and the other nations to become a part of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, inclusive of effort carried out within the G20.
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