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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.

Comments

Submitted by Leonard Newmark on
My experience with the US federal law enforcement system is that effective information sharing is predicated on similar, i.e. uniform, rules of engagement across different agencies and jurisdications--this is unique challenge in the international context, but one which I think the current movement towards greater transparency will help mitigate--I'm thinking of the WBG shift towards more open access to information. In fact, disclosure policies are often the flip side of the information sharing coin and while we must be diligent to not "unfairly besmirch the names and reputations of innocent individuals and companies by openly trading in allegations that may subsequently prove to be without merit" we should also be able to publicly (and timely) acknowledge when those matters have been unsubstantiated.

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