From 5 to 7 September, the Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption held a meeting at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. This working group is a subsidiary body of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption. It is responsible for advising the Conference on preventive measures under chapter II of the Convention. During the meeting, discussions focused on preventing and managing conflicts of interest, and on asset and interest disclosure systems for public officials.
On 10 September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on States to do more to fight corruption for the sake of peace and international security at a meeting of the Security Council dedicated to this issue. Mr. Guterres underlined that, according to World Economic Forum estimates, corruption costs at least five per cent of global gross domestic product. He also linked corruption to many forms of instability and violence. Finally, the UN chief recognized the importance of strengthening the capacities of national anti-corruption institutions.
From 24 to 27 September, UNODC organized a regional anti-corruption workshop in Serbia. By bringing together civil society, private sector and government representatives, this workshop aimed to facilitate collaboration between various stakeholders for implementing the Merida Convention in Southeast Europe.
Council of Europe
On 6 September, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, released a report assessing measures taken by Cyprus to comply with its recommendations related to the fourth evaluation round. GRECO considered that promising moves were made, such as the online publication of asset declarations of MPs. However, the anti-corruption body observed that many results were yet to materialize.
On 12 September, GRECO decided to place Denmark in its non-compliance procedure due to lack of sufficient measures taken to prevent corruption in respect of MPs, judges and prosecutors. In particular, GRECO indicated that there is still no requirement upon Danish MPs to make ad hoc reporting of conflicts of interest. Deeming this requirement essential, GRECO recommended its implementation without delay.
On 18 September, GRECO called on France to make further progress in tackling corruption after the insufficient results noted in its second compliance report of the fourth evaluation round. The anti-corruption body notably recommended that asset declarations of deputies and senators be made easily accessible to the public at large. GRECO regretted that this recommendation was not followed during the drafting of the political trust laws in 2017, as suggested by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life. Deploring “a missed opportunity”, GRECO argued that the adoption of such a transparency measure could have relieved the current discredit of politicians.
The GRECO President and the Executive Secretary attended the Fundamental Rights Agency Forum, which took place in Vienna from 25 to 27 September. During this event, the importance of preventing corruption for boosting trust in institutions was acknowledged.
On 11 September, the European Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee discussed the suspicions of conflict of interest surrounding Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. A complaint had been submitted by the NGO Transparency International to the European Commission. According to the civil society organization, there is a situation of interference between the private interests of Mr. Babiš, who is accused of controlling the Agrofer group, and his public duties. This alleged situation is viewed as especially problematic since the head of the government is involved in decision-making on the allocation of EU funds, of which Agrofert is a recipient. MEPs urged the European Commission to investigate these allegations.
On 25 September, the General Court of the European Union confirmed the European Parliament’s refusal to grant access to documents relating to MEPs’ subsistence allowances, travel expenses and parliamentary assistance allowances. The Court held that the Parliament was entitled to claim that the documents concerned contain personal data since the applicants – journalists and journalism associations – failed to prove the need for their transfer.
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
From 11 to 14 September, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Kazakhstan’s Agency for Civil Service and Anti-corruption organized a training seminar on managing corruption risks in the public sector. About fifty representatives from academia, the municipalities and the central government attended the seminar. This educational initiative is part of the OSCE’s efforts to promote good governance by focusing on anti-corruption activities in Kazakhstan.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
On 27 September, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its open government data report. This report analyzes open data policies across OECD member and partner countries. It assesses States’ efforts to improve the availability, accessibility and reuse of open government data. The OECD concludes that it remains critical to support investment to open up government data counting on a sound business case, to provide clear value propositions and present the potential benefits of facilitating open data use, and on ex-post assessments tools to show the realization of such benefits.
African Development Bank
On 20 September, the African Development Bank announced the debarment of GEO SCIENCES, a consulting firm, for engaging in fraudulent practices, which were revealed by an investigation of the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption. While bidding for a contract in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company made false statements and failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest. As a result, it will be ineligible to participate in projects financed by the Bank for a minimum period of 48 months.
On 19 September, the ethics commission of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) suspended three former North American football executives for life because of their involvement in a massive corruption scandal. Recently judged in the United States, this scandal exposed how millions of dollars of bribes were paid by sports marketing companies to football officials in exchange for promotional and broadcasting rights for tournaments in the American continent.
On 24 September, the Court of Arbitration for Sport established that Jérôme Valcke, former FIFA Secretary General, who was banned for ten years from soccer for corruption, had often used private jets for him and his family, and thus broke FIFA rules on travel. In addition, Mr. Vackle was found guilty of destroying evidence and abusing his position to favor his son.
International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
On 11 September, a press release was issued concerning the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in last July. International IDEA and OGP committed to work closely together to enhance government transparency and fight corruption.
Published on the International IDEA website on 13 September, an article reported on the organization’s participation in the meeting of the Working Group on the Prevention of Corruption, held at UNODC from 5 to 7 September. International IDEA encouraged States to address the issue of money in politics holistically, and to design preventive measures in a horizontal manner with all the stakeholders. Indeed, the organization emphasized that both management of conflicts of interest and asset and interest disclosure need to be associated with the controls of party and election funding.
On 12 September, the NGO Transparency International released a report assessing the enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. According to the report, current efforts to crack down on foreign bribery are inadequate. Although the countries and territories reviewed by the report are responsible for more than 80 per cent of global exports, only a minority of them have actually prosecuted companies that bribe officials in foreign countries. France’s commitment was considered limited despite improvements brought by the 2016 anti-corruption law.