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“UN Convention must criminalise private sector corruption,” says Transparency International

TI calls for the UN Anti-Corruption Convention to deter bribery of corporate officials and criminalise private sector corruption

"Private sector corruption should be subject to preventive measures and should be criminalised just like corruption in the public sector," says Transparency International (TI), the leading global non-governmental organisation engaged in the fight against corruption.

"Bribery of corporate officials has transnational dimensions just like bribery of public officials," said Jeremy Pope, Executive Director of TI's Centre for Innovation and Research, speaking in Vienna today, "and progress on criminalising private sector corruption at the current drafting stage is crucial to the chances of securing a UN Convention with teeth and global reach." The Third Reading of the United Nations Anti-Corruption Convention began in Vienna this week and continues until 21 March 2003.

"The private sector is larger than the public sector in many countries, and the line between the two sectors is blurred by privatisation, outsourcing and other developments," said Jeremy Pope. There is a growing recognition in OECD countries and worldwide of the need for action against private sector bribery, said Pope. "Tolerance of private sector corruption undermines public confidence in the private sector and can have serious economic and political consequences," he continued, "in particular thwarting sustainable development."

"The final stages of the drafting process that will be crucial to determining whether the Convention is little more than a marginal improvement in international co-operation in anti-corruption enforcement, or represents a real breakthrough in globalising anti-corruption laws and practices worldwide," said Pope.

While it is important in a global instrument to reach a broad consensus, Pope cautioned: "If some countries cannot live with key provisions, maybe they aren't ready to subscribe to the Convention. Their positions should not dilute the commitments other countries are willing to make." He added that "TI strongly supports an entry-into-force threshold of 20 ratifications. A requirement for 40 ratifications, as proposed by some delegations, is too high. There are precedents in other United Nations instruments for both approaches, and there is no reason why the international community should have to wait so long before a potentially effective anti-corruption weapon becomes available to investigators and prosecutors."

For TI's proposals to the negotiation sessions, see http://www.transparency.org/

Note to editors:
The UN Anti-Corruption Convention 5th session (Third Reading) takes place in Vienna on 10-21 March 2003, the 6th session in Vienna on 21 July - 1 August, and the Convention launch is scheduled to take place in Mexico in December 2003.


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