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Major anti-corruption advances set by Group of 20 – but will world leaders now walk their own talk?

Leading anti-corruption organisations meet in Bangkok and jointly respond to the G20 Summit

The “G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan” agreed in Seoul represents a major advance in the global fight against corruption. The test is whether the world’s leaders will act on their pledges. Civil society anti-corruption action groups agreed today to monitor progress publicly.

The Action Plan calls for effective implementation of the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), enforcement of laws against foreign bribery, international cooperation in preventing illicit flows into G20 financial markets, tracing and recovering stolen assets and for the protection of whistleblowers, which have long been key requests from civil society and anti-corruption fighters.

Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International (TI) stated, “The G20 itself acknowledged that the global financial crisis will push an additional 64 million people into extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day) by the end of 2010. A key cause of this massive human misery – and of the financial crisis itself – is corruption.”

TI’s Chair added, ”The G20 Action Plan is the very first of its kind ever issued by a G8 or G20 Summit and is a significant response to today’s crisis. It builds on the acceptance of and the determined implementation of the United National Convention against Corruption.”

Robert Palmer, campaigner with Global Witness stressed, “The success of these initial measures to clamp down on corruption will depend on effective implementation. The G20 leaders still need to do more to tackle the roles of the financial system in facilitating corruption.”

When there is corruption there is almost always organized crime and extensive tax evasion and avoidance, and today more than US$1 trillion of illicit funds crosses national borders each year.

“The G20 in Seoul mandated the Financial Action Task Force to implement standards of beneficial ownership of commercial entities and the International Accounting Standards Board to improve involvement of emerging market economies in accounting standards, but such cautious steps inadequately address the need for greater transparency in the global financial system,“ said Raymond Baker, Director of Global Financial Integrity. “The fight against tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions, so damaging to developing countries, goes on.”

Transparency International, Global Witness and Global Financial Integrity will monitor and report publicly on the performance of G20 governments in meeting the pledges they have made in their Action Plan. The first pledge, which if acted upon by all G-20 nations will represent a major advance, and it states that the governments will lead by example and to this end they agree, “To ratify or accede, and fully implement the UNCAC by G20 countries as soon as possible, to invite non-G20 states to ratify or accede the UNCAC and to strengthen individual reviews” of the performance of countries in line with UNCAC’s provisions.

The G20 countries that have not yet ratified the UNCAC are Germany, India, Japan and Saudi-Arabia.

The Action Plan, endorsing UNCAC and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, embraces a bold nine point agenda that includes exceptional specificity. For example, civil society welcomes the pledge: “To prevent corrupt officials from being able to travel abroad with impunity, G20 countries will consider a cooperative framework to deny entry and safe haven in our jurisdictions to corrupt officials and those who corrupt them.”

The anti-corruption organizations called on each G20 government to launch domestic multi-stakeholder consultations (to include civil society, which the G20 declaration specifically mentioned, as well as the private sector) to pursue implementation of the Action Plan at the national level.

Note to Editors: The joint statement was released on the final day of the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Bangkok, Thailand 10-13 November 2010.

For any press enquiries please contact

Deborah Wise Unger, Media and Public Relations Manager
Transparency International
+49 30 34 38 20 662
email: [email protected]

Monique Perry Danziger
Global Financial Integrity
T: +1 202 293 0740
E: [email protected]

Robert Palmer
Global Witness
T: +44 7545 645406
E: [email protected]