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United Nations Convention against Corruption


Council Decision 2008/801/EC on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption



It authorises the EU to sign the United Nations Convention against Corruption. The convention aims to help the fight against corruption, promote the proper management of public affairs and encourage international cooperation and technical assistance.


The convention applies to the prevention, investigation and prosecution of corruption and to the freezing, seizure, confiscation and return of the proceeds of offences.

It includes rules to prevent and combat money laundering as well as standards on accounting in the private sector and on transparency and equal access of all candidates for public works supply and service contracts.

Preventing corruption

The convention sets out a number of rules to prevent corruption, including:

  • the application of prevention policies and practices and the establishment of bodies for that purpose;
  • the application of codes of conduct for public officials;
  • objective criteria for the recruitment and promotion of public officials;
  • public procurement rules.

It also recommends:

  • promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public finances and in the private sector;
  • tougher accounting and auditing standards;
  • rules to secure the independence of the judiciary.


The convention recommends establishing a number of criminal offences, including:

  • corruption of national or foreign public officials and officials of public international organisations;
  • embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion by a public official of any public or private property;
  • trading in influence (where a person with influence on other people trades this influence in return for money from a person seeking influence);
  • abuse of position and illicit enrichment*.

In the private sector, it calls for the creation of offences of:

  • embezzlement;
  • corruption;
  • laundering the proceeds of crime;
  • handling stolen property;
  • obstructing the administration of justice;
  • participating in and attempting embezzlement or corruption.

The convention also recommends further legal and administrative action, including:

  • ensuring that companies can be held liable;
  • allowing freezing, seizure and confiscation;
  • protecting witnesses, experts and victims;
  • protecting reporting persons;
  • ensuring that companies or persons who have suffered damage as a result of an act of corruption have the legal right to claim compensation;
  • encouraging cooperation with law enforcement authorities.

Recovery of assets

The convention specifies measures for the direct recovery of assets and sets out how this can be done through international cooperation on confiscation. It also includes rules on how assets should be returned.

European Anti-Fraud Office

The European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) has responsibility for investigating these issues as far as they apply to the EU institutions. OLAF investigates fraud against the EU budget, corruption and serious misconduct within the European institutions, and develops anti-fraud policy for the European Commission.


It applies from 25 September 2008.


For more information, see:


* Illicit enrichment: where a person benefits at another person’s expense without giving something of equal value in return.


Council Decision 2008/801/EC of 25 September 2008 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (OJ L 287, 29.10.2008, pp. 1-110)

last update 21.04.2016