September 2006 (#74)


In this update:

  • Bribery of Foreign Officials
  • FOI
  • Recommended Website
  • ‘Publish What You Pay’ and Australia
  • COMING EVENTS

Bribery of Foreign Officials

The 2006 survey of the implementation of the terms of the OECD Convention has been completed and released by TI. It can be found on their website. Points of interest to Australians include:

  • Australia is one of 14 OECD countries which have still not commenced any prosecution under the respective domestic laws to implement the treaty. By contrast the US authorities have prosecuted on 85 occasions over the past two years.
  •  It is disappointing that major exporting countries such as Japan, the Netherlands and UK have not actively enforced the treaty.
  •  Considerable evidence exists that much of the international business community is still not convinced that foreign bribery laws must be obeyed.
  •  On the positive side more that one third of OECD countries have now enforced the Convention. Major prosecutions have been brought in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain – as well as the US.
  •  A mounting number of investigations of foreign bribery have been commenced around the world.
  •  Many more countries report that public access to information about foreign bribery cases exists, and governments such as our own are publicising the need to report suspicions of bribery and corruption on overseas trade.
  •  On the other hand it is evident from this TI survey that many OECD countries do not provide adequate protection to whistleblowers. Australia is in this category.

This is a revealing progress report to exemplify the fact that the intent of governments in curbing foreign bribery is hard and often not translated into practice. Monitoring by outside organisations is essential.
The report was given to the Justice Minister Senator Chris Ellison by our Chairman Frank Costigan when we met in Canberra on 13 September. We also brought the report to the attention of the representatives of the Attorney General�s Department on the same day. The Canberra meetings also served to enable us to urge implementation of the OECD Phase 2 Report by Australia. Reference to that interesting document can be found on the TI Australia website.
Mike Ahrens, TI Australia Chief Executive

FOI

In light of the High Court decision in the McKinnon Case the FOI tab on the TI Australia website is being updated.
As flagged in the press recently, the essence of that decision, by a close majority, was that any Certificate issued by a Minister claiming public interest as a basis for denying access to documents is very difficult to challenge on review. This reading of the Freedom of Information Act, as the judges acknowledged, flies in the face of the avowed objective of the same law to create a general right of access to documents in the possession of the government. A full copy of the judgment can be found on the High Court of Australia website.

Recommended Website

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.

‘Publish What You Pay’ and Australia

TI Australia is working with other NGOs to build an Australian chapter of the international Publish What You Pay (PWYP) campaign. PWYP is a coalition of more than 250 civil society organisations which campaign to increase the transparency of payments to government by transnational corporations. PWYP works to ensure greater accountability for the hundreds of billions of dollars paid to governments across the world by natural resources companies. NGOs including TI have had a critical role in raising awareness of the importance of revenue transparency for sustainable development and poverty reduction. The commitment to EITI by many governments was stimulated by the work of NGOs, starting with the Global Witness December 1999 report A Crude Awakening. This report was an expos� of the apparent complicity of the oil and banking industries in the plundering of state assets during Angola’s 40-year civil war. The Publish What You Pay coalition continues this important work, fighting to ensure that the ‘resource curse’ is turned into a ‘resource blessing’ for some of the world’s poorest populations. TI Australia and the PWYP coalition will continue to work with AusAID as a strategy is developed to implement recommendations of the White Paper on EITI and the wider anti-corruption strategy which was also a commitment in the White Paper.

COMING EVENTS

25 – 27 September 2006: Governments & Communities in Partnership – From Theory to Practice Conference, Melbourne, Australia. The conference will bring together key policy makers, community leaders and researchers from around Australia, together with leading experts from the UK, Ireland, Austria, Canada, the United States and New Zealand. The aim is to deepen the academic and policy debate about the impact and value of efforts to �join-up� different public services and related initiatives to strengthen communities.

7-14 October 2006: at the University of Passau, the annual lecture, The Economics of Corruption – A University Lecture on Good Governance and Reform, by Prof. Dr. J. Graf Lambsdorff. The course will be given in English and is directed towards graduate and post-graduate students and faculty in the social sciences, as well as towards a wider audience, including anti-corruption policymakers and practitioners. This year’s lecture will be supplemented by training/workshop sessions covering specific anti-corruption issues such as the UN Convention Against Corruption, the design of criminal codes, corporate liability, blacklisting, whistle-blower protection, and ombudsmen. One training/workshop session will cover in detail the Corruption Perceptions Index’s statistical setup and background.

2-3 November 2006: 6th National Investigation Symposium, Manly Pacific Hotel, Sydney � a major biennial public integrity event featuring presentations of key survey results from the Whistling While They Work project. The symposium is organised by the ICAC, NSW Ombudsman and Institute of Public Administration of Australia (NSW Division). Information will become available on the Institute of Public Administration of Australia website.

8 December 2006: TI Australia AGM in Melbourne. Further details available soon.