December 2006 (#75)

In this update:

  • AWB – Release of Justice Cole’s Report
  • Guatemala International Anti-Corruption Conference maps out global governance agenda
  • Bribe Payers Index
  • Papua New Guinea – electoral awareness seminars launched
  • NIS Study of Vietnam

AWB � Release of Justice Cole�s Report

The report tabled last Monday 27 November is lengthy and severe. Despite all the media attention to its findings, one important feature has been rather lost sight of: that the main situation in question was quite specialised and atypical. No bribe seems to have been paid to any Iraqi official and no AWB employee turned whistleblower – not at least until the inquiry was launched.
The absence of high commissions going to any intermediary was also atypical (Iraq remains a �very high risk country� at the bottom of the Corruption Perceptions Index of TI). Hence it is disappointing that the report casts very little light on the federal statute implementing the OECD Convention. Cole�s report does (in Appendix 26 in Book 5) indicate that the legality of the arrangements under Iraqi law at the time would have been a bar to prosecution of AWB under that law.
A question provoked is whether the scandal will make it harder for Australian companies generally operating in �high risk� countries to maintain a steadfast line to resist pressures to bribe and to claim that AWB was a totally exceptional case.

Guatemala International Anti-Corruption Conference maps out global governance agenda

TI Australia Board member, David Mattiske, attended the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) which came to a close on 18 November in Guatemala City with the publication of a powerful declaration that charts a course of action for the global anti-corruption movement in the coming years. The IACC brought together over one thousand governance practitioners and experts from a variety of fields and 115 countries.
�When we arrived in Guatemala, we asked a fundamental question: why is corruption still blocking the way towards a fairer world? The 12th IACC has made clear that there are no simple answers,� said the Honorable Justice Barry O�Keefe, Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. �But three simple truths emerged: countries cannot afford to be complacent about corruption; they must now move beyond expressions of political will to take concrete actions; the people must demand accountability.�
Participants in the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) unanimously adopted a resolution seeking to ensure the successful implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), reiterating a firm belief that conventions without effective implementation are just pieces of paper. The Conference was attended by over one thousand experts and leaders from 115 countries representing civil society, government and the private sector.

Bribe Payers Index

Transparency International�s 2006 Bribe Payers Index (BPI) is the most comprehensive survey of its kind to date. Released in October 2006, the BPI shows that overseas bribery by companies from the world�s export giants is still common, despite the existence of international anti-bribery laws criminalising this practice.
The BPI looks at the propensity of companies from 30 leading exporting countries to bribe abroad. Companies from the wealthiest countries generally rank in the top half of the Index, but still routinely pay bribes, particularly in developing economies. Companies from emerging export powers India, China and Russia rank among the worst. In the case of China and other emerging export powers, efforts to strengthen domestic anti-corruption activities have failed to extend abroad.
�Bribing companies are actively undermining the best efforts of governments in developing nations to improve governance, and thereby driving the vicious cycle of poverty,� said Transparency International Chair, Huguette Labelle.

Papua New Guinea � electoral awareness seminars launched

Transparency International PNG (TI PNG) launched its Provincial Electoral Awareness Seminars and awareness materials today, funded through AusAID�s Electoral Support Program (Phase 2).
TI PNG along with the PNG Electoral Commission (PNGEC) and Ombudsman Commission of PNG (OCPNG) is visiting all provincial centres in PNG to work with all intending candidates and the wider community to prepare for the 2007 National Elections. The Australian Development Gateway has recently established a new sector on their website called Development Practice and Effectiveness that is designed to cover fundamental aspects of professional practice for the development/aid profession.

NIS Study of Vietnam

A National Integrity System (NIS) Study of Vietnam released on 21 November 2006 by Transparency International shows that recent anti-corruption progress in Vietnam needs to be translated into concrete results. There is now greater recognition than ever before in Vietnam that corruption is a problem, and corruption is much higher up the political agenda. The increased focus on corruption by both the government and international organisations can be demonstrated in the passage of the country�s first anticorruption law in late 2005. However, issues such as the government�s piecemeal approach to tackling corruption, and the fact that civil society and the media are ill placed to perform their role as watchdogs, means Vietnam�s NIS is not working well.