The Guidelines developed by the OECD Investment Committee form a part of the 1976 OECD Declaration on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises. They define the standards of responsible business conduct for international companies that are registered or undertake their activities in the countries that have joined the Declaration.
The document covers, in particular, the following areas:
- disclosure of information on an organisation’s activities;
- human rights;
- employment and industrial relations;
- protection of the environment;
- combating bribery and other forms of corruption;
- consumer interests;
- science, technology and innovation;
- fair competition;
- compliance with the tax legislation.
The section focused on the fight against corruption of the previous version of the Guidelines covered only such form of corrupt conduct as bribery and put forward the following recommendations for multinational enterprises to counter relevant misconduct:
- develop and implement compliance programmes;
- prohibit or, as a minimum, not to favour facilitation payments, and reflect it mandatorily in accounting statements if employees resort to this practice;
- document in a proper manner the hiring of employees and their interaction with third parties;
- ensure transparency of their activities;
- ensure training and awareness-raising of employees on anti-corruption and related corporate policies, programmes and internal control measures and ethics principles;
- inform top management about contributions made by the multinational enterprise.
One of the most important additions to the updated version of the document is the expansion of the list of corruption offences. In particular, besides active and passive bribery included in the previous version, the list incorporates:
- trading in influence;
- embezzlement and misappropriation;
- misuse of sponsorships and charitable donations.
Additionally, the new version of the Guidelines has considerably expanded the list of legal persons the interaction with which by multinational enterprises can be associated with manifestations of corruption. These persons namely are:
- business partners;
- contractors and subcontractors;
- investee companies;
- entities that supply products and/or services that contribute to the enterprise’s own operations, products or services;
- joint venture partners;
- any other organisations that are directly linked to the enterprise’s operations, products and/or services.
The interaction shall be considered with regard to all stages of supply chain, going beyond the relationships of the “first tier”: the paper stresses that multinational enterprises should seek to prevent or mitigate the negative impact of corruption for any form of interaction.
Additionally, the following provisions have been included in the updated Guidelines:
- agents of multinational enterprises should not exercise illegal influence on public officials and should abide by the professional standards in this interaction;
- if the facts of commission of corruption offences are detected, multinational enterprises should inform competent authorities/persons accordingly and notify of the corrective action undertaken;
- all contributions made by multinational enterprises, including political ones, should be pre-approved by the top management;
- multinational enterprises are not entitled to require their employees to support any specific political candidate or organisation;
- collective action aimed at reducing corruption risks are important for countering corruption – with the participation of civil society organisations, including international ones, representatives of the private sector, professional associations and other international organisations.
Finally, the updated version of the document includes the provisions on the need for multinational enterprises to ensure transparency and integrity in lobbying also in terms of putting their policies and procedures related to this kind of activities in line with the 2021 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Principles for Transparency and Integrity in Lobbying, and on the importance for multinational enterprises not to seek to look for “workarounds” and use mechanisms that are not provided for by the relevant legislation.