Remarks Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General.
Davos, 22 January 2015
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The World Economic Forum’s Global Challenge Partnership is a new and important weapon in the international anti-corruption arsenal.
At the OECD we have also made tackling corruption a priority. The recent OECD Foreign Bribery Report, which analyses 427 concluded cases of bribery against foreign public officials, shows that companies are still engaged in corrupt transactions at the highest levels of management. In more than half of these cases, corporate management or CEOs were involved.[i] The report highlights that we cannot take a one-dimensional approach to combatting corruption, focusing just on companies, or just on governments. Both the supply and the demand sides of bribery need to be tackled, domestically and internationally.
We are also putting enforcement and implementation at the heart of our work on anti-corruption. Our new OECD Trust and Business Project (TNB) focuses on how to close the implementation gap between the actual conduct of businesses and governments and the rules and standards we have put forward. These rules and standards include, among others, the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention and our work supporting the G20 and B20 communities.
The next round of country reviews by the OECD Working Group on Bribery will focus on enforcement. The goal will be to increase not only the level of enforcement, but also the number of countries that are enforcing foreign bribery laws.
We are also increasingly turning our attention to the beneficial ownership of companies. Opaque ownership allows criminals to use companies to commit, not just corruption, but also tax evasion and money laundering. Piercing this veil has become a top priority for governments and for the G20. In response, the OECD contributed to the drafting of the G20 High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency.
This issue is also a priority for the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, whose next round of reviews – beginning in 2016 – will intensify focus on beneficial ownership. The goal is to ensure that all 124 Global Forum members have information regarding the beneficial ownership of entities operating in their jurisdictions.
In 2014, the OECD already contributed to a major reshape of the international tax system, with the first set of Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) deliverables. Jurisdictions can now begin to implement recommendations for co-ordinated domestic tax legislation and tax treaty provisions to neutralise hybrid mismatch arrangements. And we are moving on several fronts to put transparency at the heart of taxation: we now have commitments from over 94 jurisdictions to implement the Common Reporting Standard for automatic exchange of tax information at the latest by 2018, with most starting in 2017.
Through this work, companies will benefit from harmonised standards, making it much easier for them to operate internationally. I encourage companies involved in the B20 and the World Economic Forum to support the implementation of new standards on beneficial ownership.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The challenges we face in combatting corruption call for a broad collaboration of actors, stakeholders and experts. It’s only by working together that we can address these corrosive, often hidden crimes.
I would like to conclude by bringing to your attention the third OECD annual Integrity Week which will take place in Paris the week of 23rd March. We will be bringing together stakeholders from government, academia, business, trade, and civil society to engage in dialogue focused on the effects of corruption on investment. I hope many of you will join us in this global debate!
[i] Foreign Bribery Report page 8.