Transparency international calls for a new culture of transparency in the financing of German politics
Germany needs a new culture of transparency on how politics is financed and influenced, Transparency International (TI) urges. "Against the background of the recent wave of scandals in Germany, we are presenting a programme of action which can result in full transparency in political lobbying and political funding," says Dr. Michael Wiehen, Chairman of the German National Chapter, TI Germany.
"The recent revelations are a shock lesson which tell us that Germany finally needs to confront the wider European reality of corruption and illegal party-financing," says Wiehen, who is also a member of the international TI Board of Directors. "The essence of our demands is that the we need to overcome the prevailing culture of secrecy to make political lobbying and the funding of politics fully transparent," Dr. Wiehen says.
TI Germany's reform programme calls for:
- new ceilings on political donations by companies and other legal persons,
- the full public disclosure of assets and interests of all parliamentarians and cabinet ministers,
- a lower threshold above which party donations need to be made public, and
- stricter sanctions - including prison terms - for breaches of political funding provisions.
(The full catalogue is available in German at: www.ti-deutschland.de)
Dr. Wiehen stresses: "The scandal involving the CDU and former Chancellor Helmut Kohl shows that it will be a vain hope to move against corruption so long as countries like Liechtenstein facilitate large-scale corruption by providing the financial logistics. TI declared internationally in 1997 that regulating the operations of all international banking centres must be improved so as to ensure that assets under their control are governed by agreed international norms and that illicitly gained assets can be traced, frozen and forfeited. This should include exclusion from the international monetary system of off-shore banking centres, which fail to meet these standards. Banking secrecy must not provide a shield for criminals and obstruct the exposure of corruption."
Commenting on the sale of German tanks to Saudi-Arabia in the early 1990s which was facilitated by major bribe payments, TI-Germany's chairman says: "The illegal funding of the ruling CDU party confirms the observation that bribery abroad is a favourite entry point for illegal party financing. We have seen similar cases in France, Belgium and Italy - this is a Europe-wide problem."
Transparency International noted that tomorrow is the first anniversary of the entry-into-force of the OECD Anti-Corruption Convention that makes it a criminal offence for corporations to bribe foreign officials. Dr. Wiehen points out that ;" Against the background of the latest scandals it is all the more urgent that Italy, France and the United Kingdom fully implement the new OECD Convention."
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