Remarks by Angel Gurría
Tuesday 11 December 2018 - SciencesPo, Paris
(As prepared for delivery)
Monsieur le Président, Mesdames et Messieurs,
Je suis ravi de me joindre à vous aujourd’hui à la première conférence internationale de l’association #StopCorruption. Permettez-moi de commencer par remercier l’association #StopCorruption, et en particulier son Président d’Honneur, M. François Hollande, et ses Co-présidents, M. Michel Sapin et M. Michel Hunault, ainsi que M. Frédéric Mion, directeur de Sciences Po, de m’avoir invité à cette discussion importante.
Corruption remains one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It leads to mistrust in governments, public institutions, corporations, the financial system, politicians, political parties, democracies, in short the very institutions that were created to protect citizens.
A recent survey found that, in 2017, only 15% of citizens felt the system was working for them, and 69% expressed concerns about ‘corruption’. Another study found that 38% of respondents stated that bribery and corrupt practices happen widely in business in their country – the same level as in 2012. In emerging countries, this figure jumps to 52%. Bribery is a vehicle for corruption, and today, it is estimated that close to USD 1.5 trillion in bribes are paid every year by businesses and individuals.
Faced with these figures, it is important that we keep the fight against corruption alive and kicking. Just a week ago, I was in Buenos Aires for the G20 Summit, where Leaders reiterated their commitment to combat corruption.
Fortunately, we have the tools. What we need is better implementation of international standards and stronger co-operation. The OECD, as a global standard-setter, has a key role to play. Standards are part of the OECD’s DNA; they help us to level the global playing field. For many years, we have been working with governments and the business community to help them adhere to and implement our legal instruments and standards and, therefore, strengthen the fight against corruption, improve integrity and rebuild public trust.
Let me briefly share with you a few examples of the main strands of our work in these areas.
The OECD is leading efforts to combat bribery. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention is only as powerful as the collective commitment of all its Parties. Despite the progress made thanks to the Convention, there is still a clear enforcement gap. Only 23 of the 44 Parties to the Convention have ever imposed a sanction for foreign bribery.
To effectively combat corruption, we need to understand its drivers, and we need to address both its supply and demand sides. That’s why I am happy to be launching today our new study on the ‘demand side’ of bribery, “Foreign Bribery Enforcement: What Happens to the Public Officials on the Receiving End?”
The study examines what happens to the public officials on the receiving end and shows how more must be done to effectively sanction these corrupt officials, including the major role media plays in detecting corruption.
The OECD is working to promote business integrity. We are home to some of the world’s foremost standards on transparency, accountability and business integrity. For example, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises are the most comprehensive standard to help businesses implement and benefit from responsible business conduct. They provide recommendations in 12 areas of corporate “citizenship” – including disclosure and anti-bribery – that encourage the positive contributions companies can make to economic, environmental and social progress.
We have also partnered with the G20 to produce the revised G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, an indispensable and globally recognised benchmark for assessing and improving corporate governance. And we are developing a new standard to fight corruption in state-owned enterprises which will be ready in 2019 – I was encouraged to see the G20 Leaders in Buenos Aires supporting this work.
Tackling tax evasion and avoidance. There has been great progress over the past decade to improve tax transparency and facilitate exchange of information. Bank secrecy for tax purposes is over, and almost 90 jurisdictions are now exchanging bank information automatically. This has already resulted in governments identifying 93 billion euros in additional tax revenues.
Tax evasion is also closely linked with other financial crimes, including corruption and money laundering. The OECD is promoting a holistic, ‘whole of government’ approach to addressing these connected challenges by strengthening inter-agency and international co-operation in fighting tax crimes and other corrupt practices. One example is the joint study we published with the World Bank in October on “Improving Co-operation between Tax Authorities and Anti-Corruption Authorities in Combating Tax Crime and Corruption”.
Stemming illicit financial flows (IFFs). Putting a stop to the funds that facilitate or incentivise corruption is key to promoting sustainable and inclusive development. This requires a collective effort to better understand development linkages, IFF risks, and reduce vulnerabilities to IFFs across source, transit and destination countries.
The numbers are heavily disputed – total illicit flows from developing countries have been estimated to be between USD 850 billion to USD 1 trillion per year. But the consensus is that IFFs outstrip combined inflows of foreign direct investment and ODA combined, dramatically reducing the resources available for domestic investment.
Promoting integrity in the public sector. This is a key focus of the Organisation, demonstrated by our internationally recognised guidance, including the OECD Recommendations on Public Integrity and on Public Procurement.
Our annual Integrity Forum brings together all stakeholders and takes stock of the challenges being faced in this area. In 2017, we adopted a Recommendation on Public Integrity focusing on three pillars: Putting a system in place to reduce opportunities for corrupt behaviour; Changing the culture to make corruption unacceptable socially; and, Making people accountable for their actions.
Promoting standards to prevent corruption in the delivery of aid. The OECD is also setting the benchmark on effective strategies for managing the risk of corruption in development assistance, and enhancing the use of aid resources. And we are closely monitoring country commitments through the 2016 OECD Council Recommendation for Development Co-operation Actors on Managing the Risks of Corruption.
Last but not least we are tackling corruption in sports. Corruption in sport distorts the rules of the game, it “un-levels” the playing field and erodes trust in the sport movement. Eventually it turns citizens away from sport. We are pleased to support the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sports (IPACS), a collective and multi-stakeholder approach to applying international anti-corruption standards to sport. I am convinced that France will benefit directly from this as it prepares for the Paris 2024 Olympics and other forthcoming events.
Mesdames et messieurs,
La corruption n’a pas lieu dans l’isolement. Elle implique une pluralité d’acteurs, une pluralité de frontières et une pluralité de secteurs. C’est précisément pourquoi nous allons continuer de travailler avec les gouvernements, les entreprises, la société civile et les forums internationaux comme le G20, pour lutter contre la corruption, concevoir et mettre en œuvre des politiques meilleures pour une vie meilleure. Merci.