Remarks by Angel Gurría
21 March 2019 - Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Minister Field, Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you back for the second day of the OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum. I would like to thank the UK Government for supporting this Forum, in particular the UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, Mr. Mark Field, for joining us here today.
We cannot say it enough: corruption remains one of the most complex challenges we face, eroding the very institutions that were created to protect citizens. It is a governance failure that needs to be addressed urgently. And we have a historic opportunity to make a difference: to use digital technologies to combat corruption more effectively and build Planet Integrity.
Digitalisation has the potential to help us restore a culture of integrity in our societies and economies.
Think of blockchain: it is becoming a game-changing tool for governments, helping them improve the transparency, accountability and efficiency of public services, including corruption prone activities like public procurement and property registration.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also going mainstream, providing a powerful tool to analyse huge amounts of evidence in white-collar crime investigations. For instance, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office is using AI to investigate fraud cases more quickly, more cheaply, and with a lower error rate. Similarly, data analytics are helping tax administrators to be more service driven, effective and efficient, reducing corruption risks and supporting improved tax morale.
But digitalisation also comes with new pitfalls. For example, the anonymity of some cryptocurrencies can hinder the identification of the real owners of assets, facilitating corruption investments. The lack of transparency in social media algorithms, coupled with its ubiquity and speed, are exacerbating entrenched problems of propaganda and politically aligned bias.
Governments cannot fall behind. One of the reasons why the 2008 crisis happened was that new technologies and innovation in financial markets advanced faster than our regulators, legislators and governments’ capacity and understanding of the new reality. Governments must lead the wave and turn digital technologies into tools for inclusion, integrity and widespread opportunities.
The OECD has been working hard to support governments to make the most of these transformations. Our Going Digital Integrated Policy Framework, which we launched at our Digital Summit just last week, is helping policymakers better understand the core policy issues behind digitalisation. And through our Strategic Approach to Combatting Corruption and Promoting Integrity, we are working to inform coherent and impactful anti-corruption and integrity policies.
Let me share a few examples.
First, the OECD is advancing the fight against bribery. Yesterday, we launched a study on “Resolving Foreign Bribery Cases with Non-Trial Resolutions”, which examines the recent increase in the use of settlements to resolve foreign bribery cases. We are also reviewing the 2009 OECD Anti-Bribery Recommendation to ensure it remains relevant in a rapidly changing, digital world.
Second, we are working to promote integrity in government and business. For example, our forthcoming Anti-Corruption and Integrity Guidelines for State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) provides extensive advice on how the state, as an enterprise owner, can minimise the risk of corruption and other irregularities in its SOEs. And just yesterday, we launched our new report on Analytics for Integrity: Data Driven Approaches for Enhancing Fraud and Corruption, to help policymakers and practitioners integrate data-driven approaches in their fight against corruption.
Third, we continue to pursue new evidence on a wide range of integrity-related issues, from tackling illicit flows to improving integrity in tax administration. Just this week, the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade revealed its latest update on the impact of counterfeiting and piracy: in 2016, 3.3% of global trade was in illicit trade, up from 2.5% in 2013. We are also providing innovative tools to support implementation. For instance, we just launched the Beneficial Ownership Implementation Toolkit, which helps countries implement legal and supervisory frameworks that identify and collect beneficial ownership information.
Fourth, the OECD is also working with Partner Countries, including through regional programmes, to broaden adherence to, and ensure effective implementation of, our standards and tools. For instance, we are helping the Colombian government develop a national integrity and anti-corruption strategy based on the OECD Action Plan on Integrity for Good Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean.
And last but not least, the OECD is supporting the anti-corruption agenda in the G20, including under the current Japanese Presidency, by contributing our expertise in developing principles and guidance on whistleblower protection and integrity in infrastructure, and in implementing the G20 High-Level Principles for Preventing and Managing ‘Conflict of Interest’ in the Public Sector. The digital agenda is informing this work. For example, we are looking at how new technologies can ensure better protection for whistleblowers by enabling whistleblowers to securely share their concerns.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Technology is reinventing our lives, our societies, our economies. The daunting pace and scale of the digital transformation only makes it more urgent to ensure our different instruments remain up to speed. The upcoming OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in May will be focusing on Digital and will be looking at many of these important issues.
So let’s get to work, put our minds together to design, develop and deliver, better anti-corruption and integrity policies for better lives. Thank you.