11 / 23 / 2018

Council of Europe

On 5 October, Council of Europe Secretary General Thørbjorn Jagland and FIFA President Gianni Infantino signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations and further develop synergies and partnerships in areas of shared interest. This agreement places particular emphasis on good governance and integrity in and through football.

On 15 and 16 October, the Croatian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and the Croatian Ministry of Justice, organized an international conference in Šibenik to discuss ways of enhancing transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors in order to promote integrity.

The conference brought together over 250 senior policy makers and experts from different regions of the world. On this occasion, a declaration launching an international network of anti-corruption institutions was signed. The purpose of this network is to encourage the systematic collection, management and exchange of information, intelligence and good practices between national authorities tasked with preventing and fighting corruption.

On 16 October, the 15th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport was held in Tbilisi. The intensification of the fight against corruption in sport was one of the main themes of this edition of the conference.

European Union

On 2 October, Context published an article on the tensions surrounding the reform of the EU Transparency Register. In particular, the European Commission proposed that only registered lobbyists be allowed to meet senior EU officials. However, the legal services of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union considered that this measure would jeopardize the freedom of MEP’s mandate and contravene the diplomatic protection of the Member States’ representatives in Brussels. Consequently, negotiations between the three institutions are slow to come to fruition. The Commission regretted that the Parliament and the Council offered only voluntary commitments, which were considered insufficient to guarantee the consistent application of the principle.

A report by NGOs Transparency International and Global Witness, released on 10 October, criticized the “golden visas” programs implemented in some EU Member States, which grant passports or residence permits to non-Europeans in exchange for investments. According to the report, these practices pose risks of money laundering resulting from corruption and other criminal activities.

On 11 October, experts answered a question from the blog Strategic Europe on the EU’s action against corruption. They observed that additional efforts were needed to better control the use of EU funds. In addition, they pointed out that corruption exacerbates citizens’ dissatisfaction with Brussels, undermines solidarity between Member States, and hence threatens the very existence of the Union.

On 18 October, an EU official accused of corruption received a 15 months suspended prison sentence, and was fined 150,000 euros. He was found guilty of taking advantage of his position to favor private firms by providing their executives with privileged and confidential information, which enabled them to secure contracts through public tenders. In return, these companies would have paid 78,000 euros to his spouse.

Reuters analyzed a draft EU plan to counter money laundering, dated 29 October. According to the news agency, the document was designed in response to money-laundering scandals involving European banks and lists a number of short-term measures, but it does not propose a comprehensive reform that would correct the shortcomings of the EU legal framework for combating financial crime.

African Union

On 22 October, at the opening session of the Pan-African Parliament, the consultative assembly of the African Union (AU), the role of parliamentarians in the fight against corruption was highlighted. Presidents of national chambers were invited to the session, which recalled the importance of adopting effective legislation in this domain.

During the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC), from 22 to 24 October, the AU and Transparency International signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation commitment to the fight against corruption. The goal of this agreement is to promote cooperation between the regional organization and the NGO in the areas of advocacy, research, awareness raising, outreach and anti-corruption capacity building.

On 28 October, as part of the 63rd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the forum of African civil society organizations welcomed the AU’s commitment to devote the year 2018 to the fight against corruption. Nevertheless, civil society representatives regretted that this strong political commitment does not lead to more concrete decisions by states.

African Development Bank

On 22 October, Alan Bacarese was appointed the Director for Integrity and Anti-Corruption in the Office of the President of the African Development Bank with effect from 1 January 2019. Mr. Bacarese, a British national, comes with thirty years of experience as a senior prosecutor, white-collar crime special counsel and international anti-corruption expert.

Civil Society

On 10 October, journalist Pierre Haski tackled the political impact of corruption, citing the electoral success of the far-right in Brazil, the murders of journalists in Europe, and the arrest of Interpol’s president in China. He asserted that open societies, with strong institutions and a free press, are better at fighting corruption than authoritarian regimes.

The 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) was held from 22 to 24 October in Copenhagen, under the theme “Together for Development, Peace and Security: Now is the Time to Act”. 1,500 representatives from the public and private sectors, from civil society and international organizations, took part in this edition. Several sessions and panels allowed participants to discuss ways of turning anti-corruption pledges into concrete actions.

Following a high-level event organized by the Danish development cooperation agency at the IACC, more than 45 national governments, businessmen and organizations endorsed a joint statement aiming to prevent and drive out corruption. The signatories notably pledged to take measures to combat money laundering and tax evasion, to return the proceeds of corruption, and to promote integrity in state owned enterprises. Transparency International will monitor the implementation of the joint statement in a new online platform and report series.

On 23 October, Global Witness mentioned the debate on beneficial ownership transparency at the IACC. The NGO underlined that significant progress was achieved despite the persistence of certain obstacles and the limitations of current regulatory systems.