US calls for international law to fight corruption

US law enforcers are calling for global anti-corruption measures so deals can be conducted on a level playing field.

US companies have lost $20bn (£12.5bn) in foreign deals since the introduction of its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to Peter Clark, deputy chief of the criminal fraud division of the Department of Justice.

He says the deals have been lost because US companies are now banned from paying bribes to secure foreign trade.

Businesses are now demanding a level playing field in which no country allows its companies to support corruption, he says.

Professor Alan Doig, of Liverpool Business School, says the ratification by 34 countries of the OECD treaty against corruption is an encouraging sign.

He is calling for the West to recognise that different countries require different solutions. He says a hardline approach may be applicable for one regime, but inappropriate in another.

Doig cites examples of when this has happened in the past. “In 1993, UK officials visited a Third World country and suggested introducing a citizens' charter to try and stamp out corruption. That was Columbia.”

But in Mongolia alternative solutions were required. He says: “A UK agency visited Mongolia, invited to look at their corruption problem. When it reported back it recommended setting up an anti-corruption agency.”

Doig adds that corruption is not confined to the Third World and that anti-corruption measures have to be universally supported.