Bribery and Corruption, International Cooperation, MLA

A Workshop on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) in International Corruption cases was held in Beijing in April 2016, co-hosted by various international organisations including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The report ‘Overcoming International Co-operation Challenges in Corruption Cases’ presents some of the key insights from this workshop, with respect to current challenges in international co-operation in corruption cases, and possible solutions to these challenges.


Relying on networks to improve MLA in corruption cases

Large-scale corruption cases are increasingly transnational in nature, and therefore largely depend on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA). The report identifies networks as key tools to improve MLA, allowing for:


Establishing foreign contacts

Forming a positive working relationship with the right foreign contact can enable the exchange of information, allowing for efficient investigation of corruption cases. Furthermore, the contact in a second country may even be able to assist with reaching out to a third country, in some cases.


Facilitating effective communication

A good contact may be able to provide advance advice about the best way to submit a formal MLA request. This can save time and resources, and help to ensure greater admissibility of the evidence obtained.


Follow-up of MLA requests

When delays occur, contacts may be able to provide status updates as well as help identify solutions to overcome the cause of the delay.


Opportunities to share experience

Networks can also allow prosecutors to share investigation and prosecution methods in complex multijurisdictional cases.


Complementary forms of co-operation

Complementary forms of co-operation generally occur when preliminary information or evidence is required from a foreign counterpart. Rather than act as a substitute for MLA, they can facilitate the MLA process or even eliminate the need to make a formal MLA request. Forms of complementary co-operation include:


Liaison officers

Liaison officers facilitate communication and co-operation between the authorities of a host country and other foreign parties, including police, prosecutors and magistrates.


Co-operation with international governmental organisations

International governmental organisations include international and regional development banks. These organisations can assist in the detection and investigation of corruption offences, and facilitate complementary forms of international co-operation.


Parallel and joint investigations

In a parallel investigation each country maintains its own investigation, but coordinates their actions with counterpart investigations, sharing information, leads, and evidence where permitted.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) may be formed by members of the EU, allowing two or more countries to work together on a specific criminal investigation. The JIT allows for the sharing of information and evidence between its party countries without the need for further formal MLA requests.


Providing adequate resources and building capacity

International co-operation and the MLA process are much more efficient when sufficient resources and expertise exist. Resources also help to overcome language barriers, and allow for the performance of specialised technical services such as telecommunications interception. The MLA process is inefficient without sufficient resources, and this problem is exacerbated in international corruption cases involving multiple languages and locations, and complex financial records.


Embracing innovations

Technological, legal and institutional innovations exist to assist in the MLA process.


Technological innovations

  • Electronic systems can be used for cost-effective training, information exchange, and to track and monitor MLA requests.
  • Teleconference and videoconference facilities are an efficient alternative to face to face meetings or courtroom appearances.


Existing multilateral treaties can be used as an effective legal basis for international co-operation in transnational bribery and corruption cases.


Institutional innovations

Technical assistance programs can help to establish effective and capable central authorities. This may also involve the development of standard operating procedures and guidelines for the preparation of requests.



International co-operation and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) are vital to the success of international bribery and corruption investigations. The Beijing Workshop on international co-operation of April 2016 identified a number of key challenges to international co-operation in corruption cases, as well as some possible solutions to these challenges.



Nyman Gibson Miralis provides expert advice and representation in corruption and bribery matters that involve multiple jurisdictional investigations.

Contact us if you require assistance.