On 13 December 2021, the Irish NCP received a specific instance from Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, a Maltese civil society organisation, against Accenture plc, an Irish-American service company. The complainant alleged that the company failed to meet the standards in the OECD Guidelines related to bribery and corruption regarding its advisory role in the purchase of a wind power concession in Montenegro. Specifically, the complainant claims that the company’s employee, functioning as a negotiator, had accepted bribes and facilitated corrupt deals without any measures taken by the company. The complainant also claims that the company did not have internal processes in place to combat corruption and bribery, and that the employee in question had made contributions to government officials and benefitted from the deal themselves.
The complainant is requesting the company to:
- Terminate the employer’s contract
- Undertake contractual guarantee of non-repetition
- Compensate the local people affected in Malta
- Publicly take on the responsibility
- Issue a public apology to the people in Malta and Montenegro for facilitating corruption
Relevant OECD Guidelines
- Chapter VII
- Chapter VII Paragraph 1
- Chapter VII Paragraph 2
- Chapter VII Paragraph 3
- Chapter VII Paragraph 4
- Chapter VII Paragraph 5
- Chapter VII Paragraph 6
- Chapter VII Paragraph 7
Between December 2021 and March 2022, the NCP held meetings with the complainant and the company, and twice granted the company an extension to formalise their response.
On 21 March 2022, the NCP received the company’s response on its anti-corruption and anti-bribery policies and conduct. The company emphasised its inclusion of anti-corruption and anti-bribery in its code of business ethics, claimed that it had strict internal controls in place to monitor the use of business intermediaries, and that it had fulfilled the recommendations outlined in Chapter VII of the Guidelines through its Global Anticorruption Programme. Due to the requirement for confidentiality in these proceedings, the company also made clear that direct comments on the claims were not possible. Between March and August 2022, additional meetings were held with the company and the complainant. During this time, the complainant also issued a new response to the company’s submission.
On 7 October 2022, the NCP issued its final statement. This included the decision that pursuing the complaint further would not contribute to the resolution of the issues due to “highly relevant” and “intrinsically linked” ongoing parallel proceedings. The NCP noted that the issues were being addressed through these parallel proceedings. The NCP closed the complaint.
The complainant disagrees with the NCP’s closure of the complaint for two reasons. First, by assuming that there were any ongoing parallel proceedings, this should not be a reason to not offer the NCP’s good offices. The complainant refers to the Procedural Guidance for NCPs, which states that NCPs should not reject complaints solely on the basis of parallel proceedings. They also refer to other NCPs that decided not to reject complaints on the basis of parallel proceedings. Second, there are no ongoing parallel proceedings concerning Accenture, rather, the proceedings concern a former Accenture employee.
The complainant also disputes the NCP’s conclusion that consideration of the case was unlikely to contribute to the purpose and effectiveness of the Guidelines. They state that there is no forum in which Accenture is being held accountable for the adverse impacts it has caused in Malta and Montenegro. In their view, evaluation of the complaint and the offer of the NCP’s good offices would have ensured that the company remedy the adverse impacts that have occurred and deterred repetition.