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International Corruption Hunters Alliance

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Joining Forces Towards Development Effectiveness Through a Global Alliance to Combat Corruption

The World Bank has established regional networks of anticorruption enforcement personnel. The network has been given a name suggesting vigor and ruthlessness: International Corruption Hunters Alliance. On December 6 - 8 in Washington, the members of the alliance will gather to reflect on their work. Joining them will be authorities from member countries that have prosecuted bribe payers, as well as representatives from the private sector, civil society and international organizations. It is hoped that by the end of the meeting a truly global enforcement alliance will have been born.

To prepare for the meeting, a series of virtual conversations has been launched. The series addresses four key themes. We invite you to join the conversation via the links below. More updates will follow.

Theme 1: Stepping up prosecution of transnational bribery cases

The OECD Antibribery Convention requires parties to make promising, offering, or giving a bribe to an official of another government a crime.  Although 38 countries have ratified the convention, Transparency International reports that as of the end of 2009 only seven are actively enforcing this provision.  Another nine are making some effort to enforce it and have taken few if any steps to enforce the convention.

When it comes to the prosecution of officials who accepted bribes from transnational companies, there has been less activity.  More effort should be invested in stepping up prosecution of bribe-payers and bribe recipients, so what is the nature of the challenge (s) that is holding back this effort?  What are your views on this? Click here to comment

Theme 2: How can we compensate the victims of bribery?

In early 2009, the U.S.-based multinational Halliburton paid $579 million to the U.S. government to settle charges it had bribed Nigerian officials to win a contract.  In late 2008 the German telecommunications giant Siemens paid $1.6 billion in fines, penalties and disgorgement of profits to the German and American governments for bribing officials. 

None of the monies paid by either Siemens or Halliburton went to the countries where the bribes were paid. Some, like Sir Richard Alderman, Director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office feel strongly that the settlement money should compensate the victims of corruption. 

The current lack of a single mechanism for resolving transnational bribery cases compounds the problem, creating the possibility that companies will pay twice for the same offence, once to the government where they are headquartered and a second time to countries victimized by their bribery.  As a result, some fear that firms will cut back on foreign investment.

In addition, the potential lack of coordination of international proceedings  creates the possibility that companies will pay twice for the same offense, once to the government where they are headquartered and a second time to countries victimized by their bribery.  As a result, some fear that  foreign investment could suffer as a result of enforcement of foreign corrupt practices legislation.
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Theme 3: Monitoring for Results: The next big step in managing corruption?!

Courts must expeditiously, but fairly, adjudicate corruption cases, and the
penalties imposed on those convicted must be sufficient to dissuade others from similar acts.  To ensure that anti-corruption laws are indeed being effectively enforced, governments need to monitor the enforcement process. 

Doing so can provide performance measures to inform and guide policy design and implementation.  These performance measures also serve as indicators of corruption.  In the short run, policy makers may not be able to do much to change these indicators, but  measures, focused on performance, can provide a country something more concrete to act upon, helping policy-makers to prioritize.  

For example, if the number of completed corruption investigations in a particular country is low because of difficulty in obtaining evidence, it can identify changes in policy and procedures which expand or strengthen investigators powers and tools such as providing it with subpeona powers or access to financial records.

Corruption and likewise the success on deterring it cannot be measured by perception alone. The Uganda's first annual report on corruption is one of the most recent examples of a concrete initiative on measuring performance for implementing informed actions. The report recommends a review of Uganda’s judicial process in fighting corruption by, among other actions, adapting a 60-day timeline for prosecuting corruption cases.

Like many other countries, Uganda has the right institutions and legal framework for investigating and prosecuting corruption cases but enforcement remains a challenge. The initiative proposes the use of data tracking mechanisms and actionable indicators that will allow to monitor progress in the implementation of specific reforms and policy changes on a periodic basis.

  1. Do you monitor your institution's performance in relation to your mandate?  If you do monitor your performance, what are you monitoring or measuring?
  2. Do you make the data from your monitoring (or some performance measure) publicly available?  If so, how is the information made public (annual report, webpage, report to legislative or executive branch, etc.) and how often is it made public?

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Theme 4: Information Sharing: A Difficult Question of Timing

I believe that timeliness is key in the sharing of information.  If criminal information about suspects is not shared with those who need to know in a timely manner, this can result in crimes being committed that could have been prevented or once-in-a-lifetime investigative opportunities being lost.

In the field of fraud and corruption and in our context, the failure to share information in a timely manner can result in funds continuing to leak that could have been put to use to the benefit of society and  overburdened countries and taxpayers picking up the bill for products and services that they have not received, are incomplete or are hugely overpriced.

The question I want to raise is whether and how we can share information at a sufficiently early stage.

The sum of the various pieces we each possess of the jigsaw puzzle that is transnational corruption may be way greater than their individual parts.  Every investigator knows of occasions in which a liaison partner has provided that extra piece of information that made opening an investigation worthwhile or even provided the final, missing clue and I believe that if we work together to share as much relevant information as possible we can have a far wider and greater impact against transnational corruption than we are currently.

Yet, at the same time, we must be anxious not to unfairly besmirch the names and reputations of innocent individuals and companies by openly trading in allegations that may subsequently prove to be without merit.

So, what I would like to hear from you is whether it is possible and reasonable to find a means to find a platform to exchange concerns and detailed information (either bilaterally or multilaterally) about the activities of companies in certain countries and sectors in such a way that we, as investigative agencies, receive the information we need to know (including all relevant intelligence, allegations, financial data) which can in turn help our institutions to protect our funds and bring guilty parties to justice in a global context.

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Submitted by Timothy Church on

Please keep me informed of the international corruption hunters alliance meeting in December and registration requirements.

Submitted by Timothy Church on

Please keep me informed of the international corruption hunters alliance meeting in December and registration requirements.

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