Corruption : How to fight the issue globally – Some thoughts

Corruption : How to fight the issue globally - Some thoughts

Greasing the palms of officials to get your work done is not a new story. Corruption is an epidemic whose tentacles are spreading widely globally. The number of prosecutions against bribery of foreign officials has been on a steady rise. This article focuses on understanding the possible ways in which corruption can be fought at a global level.

The ground reality of corrupting officials

Bribing officials to get the work done

As per a 2018 report of Transparency International titled Exporting Corruption throw up shocking facts. Only 11 major exporting countries have active or moderate law enforcement against companies bribing abroad. These bribes are given in order to gain mining rights, contracts for major construction projects, purchases of planes and other deals.[1] This is indeed shocking given that majority of countries are signatories to OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The study by Transparency International reveals that the legal framework in the majority of these countries is inadequate. The report also brings into light that China, Hong Kong, India and Singapore, who are not parties to the OECD Convention, have little or no enforcement.

In April 2019, a German company agreed to pay approximately $231 million to settle charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The charge was in connection with its participation in corrupt schemes to obtain business in multiple foreign countries.[2] Previously, two US based oil equipment firms paid $660 million to the Department of Justice for bribery of officials. Another two companies have allegedly been fined for more than $1.1 billion. These companies bribed foreign officials to access an offshore oil field. [3] These incidents are a silent reminder of the ineffective legal framework in most countries.

Situation in Lebanon

Bleak situation in Lebanon

Corruption also indicates the failure of the government to provide basic services, feeding inequality and injustice. This leads to stunted economic development. It also plays a role in stifling the efforts of poverty alleviation and development. What is also surprising is the Lebanese law when it comes to the foreign officials. Lebanon is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption [4]. The Convention explicitly directs all parties to put in place legislative framework to punish foreign officials from accepting bribes. However, Lebanon has failed to legislate on the same.

Fortunately, some active steps have been taken recently to combat the growing menace of corruption in Lebanon. In May 2019, the American Anti-Corruption Institute (AACI) and in cooperation with Tomorrow’s Advice s.a.r.l., the Exclusive Strategic Partner of The AACI in Lebanon and Kuwait, organized a course on Certified Anti-Corruption Manager (CACM) management. Several Lebanese candidates attended this premier anti-corruption certification program. [5] These individuals are now global anti-corruption managers.First Batch of Certified Anti-Corruption Managers in Lebanon

First Batch of Certified Anti-Corruption Managers in Lebanon
First Batch of Certified Anti-Corruption Managers in Lebanon

UNDP has also supported Lebanon in its fight against corruption. UNDP was instrumental in supporting Lebanon through the regional project on Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries (ACIAC).[6] This effort was helpful in providing the right platform for the development of the first national anti-corruption strategy in Lebanon.

Way ahead

Possible solutions

There are a few ways in which the mechanism to fight corruption can be strengthened globally. Foremost, there is a need to strengthen the capacity and expertise to fight corruption at a national level. Secondly, agencies across countries need to be more cooperative to fight international corruption, tax evasion and organised crime. Countries across the world should make sharing of information between agencies mandatory. Multinational companies should be encouraged to have training programmes to raise awareness about the issue.

Law enforcement officials and agency officials should be provided adequate training. Training should be specific to cases involving bribery of foreign officials. Lebanon in particular must adopt a strategy which combats the problem of bribery of foreign officials. The company which engages in bribing an official should be subject to stringent fines. In extreme cases, the license to keep the business operational should be revoked. Globally, there is an increased need to prioritize penalizing bribery of foreign officials. Countries should join in to strengthen the anti-money laundering system. There should also be sufficient incentives in place for entities and individuals for self reporting the acts of bribery. At the same time, non financial entities should be obligated report suspicions of money laundering related to foreign bribery.[7]

The disease called corruption can be fought only through a collaborative effort. Global uprising against combating corruption is the need of the hour.

[1] https://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/publication/exporting_corruption_2018

[2] https://www.strtrade.com/news-publications-penalty-bribery-foreign-officials-Germany-040219.html

[3] http://www.brinknews.com/detecting-bribery-of-foreign-officials-an-elusive-pursuit/

[4]https://www.unodc.org/documents/brussels/UN_Convention_Against_Corruption.pdf

[5] https://blog.theaaci.com/lebanon-cacm2/

[6] http://www.undp-aciac.org/resources/ac/newsDetails.aspx?nid=1205

[7]https://www.transparency.org/whatwedo/publication/exporting_corruption_2018. Few of these recommendations are based on the suggestions by Transparency International in its report.

About the author

Financial advisor to UHNWI, private entities, family offices, and companies. Certified Anti-Corruption Manager from The American Anti-Corruption Institute
1 Response
  1. Tony Harrouk

    Good thoughts. It is always beneficial to focus and reflect on how to combat this lethal epidemic!! Extraordinary efforts are called upon.

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