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New Zealand has signed an international convention to combat bribery, Trade Minister Lockwood Smith announced today.
The convention, signed by members of the OECD, requires states to outlaw bribery of foreign public officials by their nationals and companies, impose effective penalties and make bribery an extraditable offence. The treaty will be considered by parliament under the new more open procedures announced by Foreign Minister Don McKinnon yesterday.
Dr Smith said New Zealand shared the concerns of other OECD members over the extent and effect of bribery in international trade and investment.
"It raises moral issues, undermines good governance and economic development, and distorts international competition. This convention will level the playing field for New Zealand companies," Dr Smith said.
"New Zealand has a reputation for being corruption free with Transparency International saying we have the least corruption of the countries surveyed. Our strong line against corruption helps us attract job-creating investment from overseas and signing this convention can only strengthen our positive reputation."
New Zealand will need to broaden the scope of our anti-bribery laws to comply with the convention. It is currently an offence to bribe officials in New Zealand but those laws will be extended to bribes offered by New Zealanders to officials in other countries.
The Government will also take steps to ensure illegal bribes are not deductable for tax pursposes.