Portugal needs to urgently step up its foreign bribery enforcement, says the OECD Working Group on Bribery


08/11/2022 - Since the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention entered into force over 20 years ago, Portugal has not had a single foreign bribery conviction. Detection remains low and Portuguese authorities prematurely closed foreign bribery cases without investigating relevant allegations thoroughly and proactively, with the number of cases terminated having increased significantly compared to Phase 3. Notwithstanding recent reforms, Portugal has not addressed longstanding Working Group concerns regarding its legal framework, and sanctions for foreign bribery against natural and legal persons do not appear to be effective, proportionate or dissuasive.

The 44-country OECD Working Group on Bribery has just completed its Phase 4 evaluation of Portugal’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and related instruments

Whilst welcoming efforts and measures undertaken by Portugal to implement the Convention and related instruments, the Working Group made a range of recommendations to improve Portugal’s capacity to prevent and combat foreign bribery, including to:

  • Continue its efforts to raise awareness and provide training on foreign bribery among all relevant public and private sector stakeholders;
  • Address key elements of its legal framework and their implementation in practice, particularly in relation to the liability of legal persons, and sanctions for natural and legal persons;
  • Enhance detection of foreign bribery, including through the FIU and self-reporting by companies;
  • Take urgent steps to ensure that its authorities investigate foreign bribery allegations thoroughly and proactively, and that relevant investigations are not prematurely closed;
  • Proactively seek co-operation and MLA from foreign countries whenever appropriate, especially before deciding to terminate a foreign bribery case.

The report also highlights good practices and positive developments, such as the adoption of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, the General Regime for the Prevention of Corruption, the establishment of the National Mechanism Against Corruption, and the enactment of legislation on whistleblower protection. The report also welcomes awareness-raising and training efforts in the public and private sectors, as well as with demand side countries, and Portugal’s recent ambitious recruitment programme for careers in criminal investigation and forensic analysis in the Criminal Police.

The OECD Working Group on Bribery adopted the Portugal Phase 4 Report on 13 October 2022. The report is part of the Working Group’s fourth phase of monitoring, launched in 2016. Phase 4 looks at the evaluated country’s particular challenges and positive achievements. It also explores issues such as detection, enforcement, corporate liability, and international cooperation, as well as covering unresolved issues from prior reports. The report lists the recommendations the Working Group made to Portugal on pages 73-76, and includes an overview of recent enforcement activity and specific legal, policy, and institutional features of Portugal’s framework for fighting foreign bribery. Portugal will provide an oral update within one year (October 2023) on selected issues. Within two years (October 2024), Portugal will submit a written report to the Working Group on the implementation of all recommendations and its enforcement efforts. The follow-up report will also be made publicly available.

For further information, journalists are invited to contact Amelia Godber, Communications Officer, OECD Anti-Corruption Division (+33 (0)1 45 24 85 75). For more information on Portugal’s work to fight corruption, please visit


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