Combating bribery can be rather challenging in a different or
remote jurisdiction than one's own. Foreign companies, or
investors, doing business in Turkey may be exposed to such
challenges, be subject to a stack of different regulations or
regulatory regime and face a higher risk of bribery. At the very
least, the burden of prevention can be heavier than in their own
countries and cultures.
Turkey is party to many anti-corruption treaties, including the
OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in
International Business Transactions, the UN Convention against
Corruption and the Council of Europe Criminal and Civil Law
Conventions on Corruption. In addition, Turkey has amended its
anti-bribery and anti-corruption legislation to include bribery of
foreign public officials. The meaning of "public
official" is broadened to align Turkish legislation with the
requirements of international conventions or treaties. There is a
visible effort by the Turkish Government to join the fight against
bribery on a global scale: today, its anti-bribery legislation is
not less comprehensive than that of other developed
The OECD Anti-Bribery Working Group's latest Phase 3 Report
criticised Turkey for its low level of enforcement and recommended
Turkey to improve its efforts in detecting and investigating
allegations of foreign bribery. This criticism is a hint of the
Turkish authorities' reluctance to deter, detect and prosecute
domestic and foreign bribery when read in conjunction with other
indicators. Namely, Transparency International's Corruption
Perceptions Index (CPI) ranked Turkey 66 out of 168 countries in
2015. Turkey's upcoming CPI ranking for the year 2016 does not
promise any raise at this stage. Recently, Open Government
Partnership's (OGP) Steering Committee resolved that Turkey
would be designated as inactive in OGP for having failed to deliver
a National Action Plan since 2014. The situation with OGP is yet
another manifestation of Turkey's lack of determination in
implementing and enforcing measures to prevent domestic and foreign
bribery versus its good faith in partaking in global initiatives
such as OGP for a more transparent, accountable and open
government. Considering the state of emergency declared in July
2016, and extended for an additional period of three months, one
may argue that the detection and prosecution of foreign bribery is
currently not one of Turkey's top priorities.
As to domestic bribery, the scene is also a little stark: the
handling of the corruption allegations that emerged in late 2013
marked a milestone in Turkey's stance against corruption and
bribery. Despite the public opinion affirming that bribery and
corruption are among the major problems of the country according to
reliable surveys, only few cases are brought to trial. This may be
partly linked to the fact that some forms of bribery are not
recognised as such in Turkey: a considerable number of participants
in a survey are confused about the corrupt nature of holiday and
New Year gifts as well as donations to foundations, associations or
public institutions made upon public officials' request in
order for the latters to perform their public duty. There is common
belief that bribery is integral to doing business in Turkey and
even multinational corporations with well-established and robust
compliance policies face difficulties in refusing the demand. The
demand-side of bribery considers itself immune to prosecution and
the supply-side seems to aversely abide by the "rules" to
compete in the market.
The foregoing scenery leads to one key takeaway: Despite the
satisfactory anti-bribery and anti-corruption legislation in place,
Turkey's anti-bribery scene has practical flaws that
necessitate extra layers of care and attention for multinational
companies to meet their domestic and international anti-bribery
compliance obligations. Due to the wide jurisdictional application
of the FCPA and UKBA combined with the ingrained risks of the
Turkish market, foreign companies are recommended to be thorough in
their risk assessment, alert against disguised forms of bribery,
and to closely observe the provision of employee trainings and
implementation of codes of conduct.
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