The Anti-Corruption Summit: now the hard work begins

The Anti-Corruption Summit: now the hard work begins

The 12 May Anti-Corruption Summit in London tackled some of the biggest corruption problems around the world, including secrecy in the movement of corrupt money around the financial system, public contracting, health and sport.

Forty countries signed up to general principles and signed a global declaration, and some made specific country commitments. Transparency International welcomes the spirit of commitment and will look at all the fine print to see how we as civil society can ensure that words turn into actions.

The emphasis was on working together and sharing information on company ownership and control, country-by-country reporting of multinational profits and illicit financial flows.

Ambitious commitments but more to do

More than 40 countries attended the Summit, which was the first of its kind to bring together leaders to discuss corruption in a transparent and inclusive manner. Business and civil society representatives including Transparency International were invited to attend.

Six countries (Afghanistan, France, Kenya, the Netherlands, Nigeria and the UK) signed up to publish registries of who owns and controls companies, and six more (Australia, Georgia, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand and Norway) agreed to work to explore doing so. More will share information behind closed doors. Australia disappointingly moved to explore rather than commit to a public registry.

But too many key countries are missing from the list of those willing to make ambitious commitments, including some of the world’s biggest economies. The statements from Brazil and China are the weakest.

This is a good day for the fight against corruption, but there is more to do. Well done to the countries that have shown leadership; but it is hard to credit those who still fail to make sufficient progress. We need to build on trust and a common agenda between governments, business and civil society so that we deliver more than words. We need actions to create change.”

– José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International

On preventing corruption

There were several key initiatives that Transparency International believes are vital to the sharing of information that can bring the corrupt to justice.

We welcome the fact that Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Singapore and Switzerland will found an International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre to bolster efforts to prosecute the corrupt and seize stolen assets.

There were other less concrete commitments to strengthen legislation to ensure stolen assets are recovered and returned. Progress on this will be monitored in 2017 at a Global Asset Recovery Forum.

Thirteen countries agreed to implement Open Contracting Data Standards, public accountability standards where the default option is to publish information.

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On punishing corruption

The UK has said it will introduce legislation to punish the facilitators of corruption who fail to do due diligence on their clients – lawyers, bankers, property dealers. This will help stop people using the UK to launder illicit wealth, but more countries have to follow suit.

There are also pledges to ban corrupt companies from public contracting in 12 countries, and more countries will share data on corrupt companies to prevent them winning business. There were also commitments to stop the corrupt travelling.

 

On protection

There was a positive statement on the role of civil society and journalists in anti-corruption work, and a commitment to seek that governments provide them with greater protection. We now need to see pressure from governments to introduce the requisite legislation in their countries.

On sport

Given the number of international sports scandals, from football and athletics to tennis and bidding for the Olympics, fighting corruption on sport was on the agenda. Nineteen countries will work with international sports bodies to promote better governance. This is working towards an International Sport Integrity Partnership for 2017 and there were commitments to have better legal instruments to tackle corruption in sport.

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