Anti-corruption

Overview

BIMCO's position on "anti-corruption" has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.

Background

Corruption is addressed in a number of international instruments, namely the 2003 United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions adopted in 1997 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. A number of national laws also deal with corruption, including the UK Bribery Act 2010 and the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Corrupt practices include demands for payment in cash or kind from port officials. Such practices add unnecessary financial burdens and delays to the shipping industry and hamper international trade. It strikes at the very principle of free trade and ethics.

A distinction must be drawn between bribery, such as making a payment to obtain a contract, and facilitation payments, which are made to officials and others, who would otherwise refuse to carry out or complete a statutory or contractual task that they are properly required to undertake without payment in cash or kind. The UK act has a zero-tolerance policy regarding facilitation payments, whereas the US act contains an exception related to offers or payments provided in exchange for routine government action.

BIMCO has developed an Anti-Corruption Clause for Charter Parties, published in November 2015. The purpose of the clause is to provide the industry with a standard wording that encourages a collaborative approach to dealing with demands for facilitation payments and provides a fair allocation of risks and responsibilities between the contractual parties.

BIMCO’s position

  • BIMCO supports the aims of the various international and national instruments and other endeavours to fight all forms of bribery and corruption globally. Bribery is never acceptable. The UK act’s zero-tolerance policy regarding facilitation payments to perform legitimate services is unworkable in countries where corruption is deeply rooted. The US act’s approach is more pragmatic.
  • Given the magnitude of the issue and the fact that corruption is deeply rooted in some countries, port states in particular should be encouraged to assume the responsibility of establishing and implementing effective anti-corruption control mechanisms and procedures. This would enable shipowners and operators to formally report and/or appeal against alleged acts of corruption encountered without fear of repercussions.

Gemma Wilkie
in Copenhagen, DK

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