August 2004 (#65)

In this update:

  • Financial Fraud Governance and Enforcement Conference, Thursday 18 November 2004
  • Australian Commonwealth National Integrity Systems Assessment (CNISA)
  • 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)
  • Indonesia – management of state funds
  • Press Freedom in Indonesia
  • ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative’s newsletter
  • Transparency International Quarterly newsletter
  • 5th National Investigations Symposium
  • Commonwealth Country Parliamentarians call for open government
  • Thirty-Fifth Pacific Islands Forum
  • Transparency International and the Olympics
  • Coming Events

Financial Fraud Governance and Enforcement Conference, Thursday 18 November 2004

Transparency International Australia and the Centre for Business Forensics will jointly deliver a one-day conference to develop awareness within the business community of the impacts of financial fraud on an organisation’s governance and on methods of prevention. Financial fraud has become an increasing problem within the business community. As a result the development and enforcement of fraud detection methods and regulations are critical to successful governance. Speakers will include high profile members from academic, industry and regulatory agencies providing a range of perspectives and ideas to address the conference theme. The conference will be held at the University of Queensland Business School Downtown, Level 19, Central Plaza One, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane from 9am – 5.15pm. Contact A1Admin on 03 9877 0369 or sue@a1admin.com for details of special conference rates for TIA members.

Australian Commonwealth National Integrity Systems Assessment (CNISA)

Transparency International Australia (TIA) released the Commonwealth component of the Australian National Integrity Systems Assessment on 12 October 2004. A National Integrity Study is a major tool designed to identify potential or active areas of systemic corruption in a country. The Report discusses contentious issues such as the children overboard incident, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and the treatment of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner earlier this year. These incidents are raised in the Report as illustrative of the active public debate on the ethical climate of Commonwealth administration. Although the study confirmed Australia’s status as a relatively low corruption nation, it highlighted specific areas of concern including the relatively weak Commonwealth protection for whistleblowers. ‘This is of particular concern,’ said TI Australia CEO Grahame Leonard, ‘because the corruption that exists in Australia in areas such as the construction industry and cartels require whistleblowers to expose the corruption and deal with it through the law enforcement system.’ The Australian survey was formally launched at the TI movement’s Annual Members Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, by Australia’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Mr. George Atkin.

2004 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)

The 2004 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) will be released on 20 October 2004. This index is compiled at the University of Passau on behalf of Transparency International. Extensive coverage on the methodology and the data is available.

Indonesia – management of state funds

The Jakarta Post reported on 23 September the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) – the state body supposedly in the frontline in the fight against corruption – topped the list of state institutions that have committed ‘irregularities’ in the management of state funds, according to the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). In a revelation that poses yet again another challenge for Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is set to become the nation’s sixth president, BPK told a House plenary session that the Attorney General’s Office has outdone other state agencies with their inefficiency in spending management in the 2003 fiscal year. ‘The highest percentage (of irregularities) was found in the Attorney General’s Office, covering about 51.8 percent of the total audited funds of Rp 618.7 billion, which is about Rp 320.5 billion,’ BPK chairman Satrio B. Joedono said. The percentage was higher than the average rate of irregularities conducted by state agencies during the same period, which stood at around 26.5 percent, Satrio added. He was conveying the results of BPK’s audit before the House members on the use of the state budget by the central and regional governments, ministries and other state agencies, for 2002, 2003 and the first-half of the 2004 fiscal year. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights meanwhile, had the lowest percentage in the same category, with irregularities amounting to Rp 6.1 billion. BPK did not clearly define irregularities – they could mean outright losses, or simply potential losses, or a discrepancy between the actual use of state funds and the planned use.

Press Freedom in Indonesia

The International Freedom of Expression Exchange(IFEX)reported the decision of a Jakarta court to sentence the editor of Tempo magazine to a year in prison for defamation. The ruling drew an outcry from international free expression organisations, including 18 IFEX members who signed a joint statement condemning the decision. The court ruled that Tempo editor Bambang Harymurti was guilty of publishing an article that libeled prominent businessman Tomy Winata. In its 3-9 March 2003 issue, Tempo reported allegations that Winata stood to profit from a fire at a textile market he owned in Jakarta. The article included Winata’s denial of any connection to the fire.

ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative’s newsletter

The first issue of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific Newsletter, a quarterly email publication containing information on recent developments in the Asia-Pacific region’s fight against corruption, relevant events, news from participating countries, publications and other works has been released. The Initiative, which is jointly managed by ADB and OECD, supports the 23 countries that have endorsed the Asia-Pacific region’s Anti-Corruption Action Plan. The newsletter’s objective is to provide up-to-date information about progress made in the fight against corruption in the Asia-Pacific region. For more information on the ADB/OECD Initiative, and to access our extensive online database on the region’s fight against corruption, please visit us at http://www1.oecd.org/daf/ASIAcom/.

Transparency International Quarterly newsletter

The Transparency International Quarterly (TIQ) newsletter for September 2004 is available in full on the TI website as a PDF for download and printing. An electronic copy by email can be requested from the TI website. TIA members will no longer be receiving a printed copy of TIQ, although the TI Australia quarterly newsletter will continue to be mailed to members and loaded on the TIA website, keeping them informed of important local and regional issues and events.

5th National Investigations Symposium

The 5th National Investigations Symposium will be held 4-5 November 2004 in Sydney. Jointly sponsored by the NSW Ombudsman, the ICAC and the IPAA, a key theme of the symposium will be integrity systems – the institutions and practices that work to sustain accountability and control corruption, misconduct and maladministration.

Commonwealth Country Parliamentarians call for open government

The growing international movement to promote transparency and the right to access information has received a boost from Commonwealth country parliamentarians, who have endorsed a set of progressive principles calling for more open governments. In a recent meeting in Accra, Ghana, a group of Commonwealth parliamentarians adopted a set of Recommendations for Transparent Governance, which call on governments to adopt access to information laws and educate the public about the right to access information. The principles also urge governments to put in place ‘effective systems of record management’, to establish independent watchdogs that oversee the use of access to information laws, and to open all parliamentary committee meetings to the public. The Recommendations were endorsed by parliamentarians from 20 Commonwealth countries at a meeting in July 2004 organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the World Bank Institute.

Thirty-Fifth Pacific Islands Forum

The Thirty-Fifth Pacific Islands Forum was held in Apia, Samoa, from 5-7 August 2004 and was attended by Heads of State and Governments of Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Tuvalu and representatives of Palau and Vanuatu. New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Timor-Leste also attended the formal session as observers. Among many important issues that were discussed, leaders invited members to consider signing and ratifying the UN Convention against Corruption to strengthen good governance in accordance with the spirit of the Biketawa Declaration. Prime Minister John Howard announced the $6 million scheme at the end of the three-day Pacific Island Forum, to spearhead a corruption and terrorism protection program throughout the Pacific aimed at preventing fragile island states from failing. Other regional leaders welcomed the constructive and supportive role Australia was now playing. The funding for this good governance program topped a weekend of more than $12 million worth of giveaways from the Australian Government, with cash also going to transport reforms and budget assistance to the tiny island of Niue, which was devastated by a cyclone in January. The governance program covers 14 areas of administration from electoral reform to weather forecasting, and will run parallel to the Pacific taskforce on general public sector restructuring due to report back to the forum in Papua New Guinea in 12 months.

Transparency International and the Olympics

TI has called for an independent body to restore ‘integrity and fair play’ to Olympic bids, saying that independent monitoring of IOC voting is vital for 2012 Olympics in discussions to eliminate bribery in relation the 2008 Beijing Games. Allegations that members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) may have flouted strict rules on the selection process for the 2012 Olympic Games ‘fly in the face of the Olympian ideals of integrity and fair play,’ said David Nussbaum, Chief Executive of Transparency International (TI). The claims were made in BBC television’s Panorama programme, Buying the Games, broadcast on 4 August. TI has already launched discussions with the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games on curbing corruption once the host has been selected. According to TI Programme Officer for South Asia, Liao Ran, after discussions between TI and the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2008 Olympic Games, ‘the Beijing Organising Committee has agreed to introduce a code of conduct, including anti-corruption clauses, conflicts of interest rules and guidelines on taking gifts.’

Coming Events

4-5 November 2004: 5th National Investigations Symposium, Sydney
18 November 2004: Financial Fraud: Governance & Enforcement, Brisbane, University of Queensland Business School Downtown,
Level 19, Central Plaza One, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane from 9am – 5.15pm
17 November 2004: TI Australia AGM, Brisbane