Thursday

23rd Jan 2020

France restricts international corruption investigations

French legislation restricts prosecutors in investigating international corruption cases, a report by the Council of Europe's anti-corruption group (GRECO) shows.

"France has severely restricted its jurisdiction and its ability to prosecute cases with an international dimension, which, given the country's importance in the international economy and the scale of many of its companies, is very

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

regrettable," the report states.

The report, approved by the French government, was published on Thursday (12 March). The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) was established in 1999 by the Council of Europe to monitor member states' compliance with anti-corruption standards.

According to the report, French prosecutors have no jurisdiction in prosecuting foreign companies that have bribed French public officials abroad. Complicity in any offence committed by a French person abroad is only investigated if a final decision in foreign courts has been reached.

"This provision makes it very difficult to prosecute acts of complicity that also include, for example, the instigation by the parent company in France of a corruption offence committed by a local branch abroad," GRECO comments.

Also, offences committed abroad can only be investigated at the request of the foreign prosecutors and following a complaint from the victim or his or her beneficiaries, or an official report by the authorities of the country where the offence was committed. This poses problems particularly when dealing with corruption cases of public officials in other countries.

Although in broad terms, France's legal system is fairly effective combatting corruption, GRECO "wondered why, despite the economic weight of France and its close historical links with certain regions of the world considered to be rife with corruption, it has not yet imposed any penalties for bribing foreign public officials," the report states, alluding to France's former African colonies.

"The French authorities explain this situation by the recent implementation of the law of 13 November 2007, the length of criminal investigations and the complexity of mutual legal assistance with certain regions of the world," the report adds.

Earlier this week, UK-based NGO Global Witness named several French banks in a report unveiling their connections with corrupt regimes in Africa and Central Asia.

Barclays in Paris held a private account for Teodorin Obiang, a scion of the ruling family in Equitorial Guinea, who in the past 10 years spent €4.5 million on sports cars even as 20 percent of children die before their fifth birthday due to poverty in the oil-rich country. Until March 2007, BNP Paribas was involved in billions of euros of syndicated loans to the Angola ruling elite-linked oil firm Sonangol, Global Witness writes.

Anti-corruption petition

"As a leading economy, France should ensure that its cross-border investigations of bribery and financial crimes are properly resourced, independent and supportive of mutual legal assistance," Jana Mittermaier, head of Transparency International's Brussels office told EUobserver.

"It is a major stumbling block that in EU member states, the national investigative and prosecutorial capacities are often inadequate for the challenges of complex and cross-border cases of financial crimes," she added.

Transparency International and Global Witness both supported a cross-party online petition against corruption urging the EU commission and member states to propose legislation and to come forward with mechanisms to fight corruption in general and in particular in EU relations with third countries.

"State looting in resource-rich developing countries can reportedly equal national debt, with funds often siphoned off into overseas bank accounts, frequently in Europe. Those who steal state money often come to Europe to spend it and enjoy a luxurious lifestyle. This must stop," the petition text reads.

EU banks named in dirty money report

Europe's biggest banks are happy to do business with corrupt regimes in Africa and Central Asia, according to a new report by UK-based NGO Global Witness.

Thousands apply for EU border guard posts

Around 7,500 applications were sent to Frontex to fill 700 new border guard posts. The guards will become official EU staff and wear a yet to be unveiled 'European Union' uniform.

Interview

Cloud of mistrust over Malta's new government

Malta's new government does not look likely to turn it into a normal, law-abiding EU state any time soon, the son of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said.

Belgium, France, UK in EU court surveillance blow

Although non-binding, a critical opinion from the EU's top court could mean laws in Belgium, France and the UK allowing for the indiscriminate bulk collection of people's data may have to be eventually amended to respect EU privacy rules.

News in Brief

  1. UK watchdog unveils online child-privacy standards
  2. Alleged 'bully' nominated for EESC presidency
  3. Greens/EFA fail to agree on accepting Catalan MEPs
  4. MEPs approve over 55 gas projects for EU funding
  5. Italy deputy PM Di Maio quits as Five Star party leader
  6. EU investment bank to keep pressure on Turkey over gas
  7. 'Rare' migrant boat from Belgium to UK sinks
  8. First annual rule of law report expected this year, Reynders said

European politicians caught with Russian 'fake likes'

Politicians and political parties in Europe have had bots generate fake 'likes', views, and comments to boost their online popularity, in what has been described as outright voter manipulation.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU warned on 'vigilance' after Davos spy fail
  2. What's Libya's impact on EU foreign policy?
  3. EU commission 'lacks ambition' on future conference
  4. Will US privacy-lite hollow out GDPR?
  5. Senior Polish member at EU body faces Belgian abuse probe
  6. Why isn't Germany helping gay rights in Hungary, Poland?
  7. US retiree, scammed by former EU official, awaits justice
  8. Vienna-Brussels night train returns amid EU green talk

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us