Analysing obstacles and challenges in fighting corruption in cases of illegal investments

Maria Belen Olmos Giupponi, Hong-Lin Yu

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Due to existing shortcomings in the system, the suitability and effectiveness of the international investment arbitration regime in addressing corrupt practices in international transactions and investment projects has been frequently questioned. The current legal and regulatory regime presumes that there is a level playing field, i.e., that the parties to an arbitration have equal access to information regarding corrupt actions. However, in practice, bringing claims of corruption in international investment fora meets various obstacles such as evidentiary hurdles and the lack of a specific arbitrators’ mandate. Hence, the focus of this article is on addressing gaps in the international investment arbitration regime dealing with corruption cases. There is increasing concern that the international legal and regulatory regime is inadequate and contains gaps that permit multinational firms to engage in illegal acts involving corruption. Against this backdrop, the main issue that arises is how the international community should respond. This article reviews the gaps in the international investment arbitration regime and then identifies two broad strategies to address the issue of accountability. The first strategy would be to build on and strengthen the existing international investment arbitration regime, which would imply its re-engineering. A second strategy would be to establish a regime providing a new forum and an avenue for dedicated international criminal investigators to be paired with dedicated anticorruption courts that would handle criminal complaints. The Anticorruption Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (APUNCAC) represents an example of the second strategy. The APUNCAC is a model convention that calls for the implementation of a system comprising dedicated international criminal investigators and dedicated anticorruption courts, in addition to a system where plaintiffs could pursue civil class actions and seek treble damages. The APUNCAC represents a more radical strategy for addressing corruption on the international level. In addition, the APUNCAC would also permit civil class actions seeking treble damages. Overall, the APUNCAC would offer claimants an opportunity to pursue their claims in a neutral forum.
Original languageEnglish
Article number59
Number of pages25
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2022


  • anti-corruption
  • international investment law
  • international arbitration

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