Issue: Accor Service’s bribes to retain business in Argentina

Description Accor Service is a French company providing services such as restaurant tickets and food vouchers to businesses and governments. The complaint involves the nature of lunch tickets/vouchers that are currently informally used by employers in Argentina to pay part of employees’ salary, but which are not formally included for calculations of employees’ holidays, sick leave and bonuses.

The complaint alleges that after a proposal to “formalise” the inclusion of the lunch vouchers in salaries (a measure that would likely reduce employers’ demand for the vouchers) was introduced into the national legislature, a representative of Accor Service approached the deputy sponsoring the proposal in November 2007 with offers of bribes of up to US$20 million if the deputy agreed to delay the proposal and change it so as to encourage, and even compel, more employers to purchase the vouchers. Recordings of telephone calls and meetings with the Accor representative were used as evidence in a domestic legal case as well as the OECD Guidelines specific instance.

Developments/Outcome On 27 February 2008, the Argentine NCP informed the complainants that it had accepted the case as a specific instance. In the mean time, an Argentine court indicted an Argentine manager of Accor Service and the middle-man who offered the bribes. The NCP forwarded the complaint to Accor and invited the company to engage in an NCP-facilitated mediation process. The company did so, and the case was successfully concluded with a negotiated agreement in March 2009. Part of the agreement was that Accor would make a financial contribution to an Argentinean NGO for support of its transparency and anti-corruption program. Accor chose to support the NGO Poder Ciudadano, which is the Argentine chapter of Transparency International. The amount of the contribution has not been made public, but it was far from the complainants’ request that the amount be equivalent to 5% of the bribe offered.

The NCP agreement further obliged the company to seek new employment possibilities for its workers (e.g. to a company of the same corporate group), provide an extra allowance for the workers who were affected by the change in the law, provide training to workers to reinsert in another job, continue providing medical assistance for 4 months after dismissal, and publish the outcome of the procedures in 2 local newspapers. Accor has complied with the terms of the agreement but has complained that the complainants have inappropriately publicised the case. The complainants reaffirmed their right to speak publically about the case after its conclusion and had opposed a stipulation in the final statement that would have infringed on this right.

1 cases relating to 'Accor Service’s bribes to retain business in Argentina':

Title Issue Date filed Status
H. Recalde and H.W. Jofre vs. Accor Service Accor Service’s bribes to retain business in Argentina 28 November 2007 Agreement

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