G20 vows to make companies, not only individuals, liable for graft

India and other G-20 member countries yesterday adopted an anti-corruption plan titled 'G20 High-Level Principles on Organising Against Corruption'.

Published: 08th July 2017 11:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th July 2017 03:48 PM   |  A+A-

From left: Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British prime minister Theresa May, U.S. president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping and German chancellor Angela Merkel attend the first working session of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, F

By PTI

HAMBURG: Adopting a strong resolution to fight corruption, India and other G20 members have committed to make their public administrations more resilient against the menace, while ensuring that companies too are held liable in addition to individual perpetrators of this crime.

The declaration assumes significance as an OECD AntiBribery Convention, adopted nearly a decade ago, has been actively enforced so far only by a few countries and the prosecution rate is dismal even in the majority of the countries which have ratified it.

In their joint declaration issued after the end of the two-day Summit on Saturday night, the G20 leaders said they remain committed to fighting corruption, including through practical international cooperation and technical assistance, and will continue to fully implement the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan 2017-18. 

"We endorse four sets of High Level Principles aimed at fostering integrity in the public and private sector. By endorsing the High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons, we commit to ensuring that not only individual perpetrators but also companies benefiting from corruption can be held liable," they said. 

G20 countries have already committed themselves to a number of measures to strengthen transparency and integrity in the public sector, including requirements for the conduct of public officials.

In their 2017 Declaration, the G20 members also made a strong commitment to making their respective public administrations more resilient against corruption.  The leaders also said they will intensify their fight against illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.  "Wildlife trafficking is a threat to the planet’s biodiversity, economic development, and, among others, health and security, and is facilitated by high levels of corruption, which the G20 cannot tolerate," the declaration said.

The leaders also endorsed the High Level Principles on Countering Corruption in Customs and called for publishing a guide on requesting international cooperation in civil and administrative proceedings. 

"We will continue our work to address integrity in sports and urge international sports organisations to intensify their fight against corruption by achieving the highest global integrity and anti-corruption standards. 

"In this respect, we strive for a common understanding regarding corruption risks in bids to host major sports events. 

"We are also committed to fighting corruption in contracts, including in the natural resources sector. We call for ratification and implementation by all G20 members of the UN Convention against Corruption and for a strong involvement in its review process," it added.

The Principles document adopted by the G20 leaders noted that corruption hampers the efficient and effective operation of government, its fairness, and impartiality of decisionmaking and the delivery of government services.

"A public administration, resilient against corruption, underpinned by a culture of integrity, accountability and transparency not only fosters citizens’ trust but can also affect the attractiveness of a country as a business location," it added.

Incidentally, India figures among the countries where corruption has been a major political issue and the Modi government has been maintaining it will leave no stone unturned in its fight against graft and black money.

For many years, G20 has been listing corruption as one of the biggest impediments to global economic growth and its sustainable development agenda.

Ahead of the G20 Summit, some rights groups had called for reaching wider consensus among leaders of the top economies for implementing laws akin to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of the US.

While the G20 has been stressing on greater efforts for tackling this menace for more than six years now, the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (OECD Convention) has been actively enforced so far only by four countries.

The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, adopted in 1997, requires each signatory country to make foreign bribery a crime for which individuals and enterprises are responsible.  The Convention is a key instrument for curbing the export of corruption globally because the 41 signatory countries are responsible for approximately two-thirds of world exports and almost 90 per cent of total foreign direct investment outflows. 

As per OECD, nearly two decades after the OECD Convention on Combating Foreign Bribery entered into force, there are still 20 countries with "little or no enforcement and nine countries with only limited enforcement".

About half of the Convention countries have failed to prosecute any foreign bribery case since they joined the Convention. 

There are a few improvements, but the performance of the majority of the 41 countries that agreed to combat foreign bribery in international business transactions is far from satisfactory. 

Only four countries improved since last year -– Greece, Netherlands, Norway and South Korea, while Argentina was the one country that regressed, the OECD said.

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