Opening remarks by Angel Gurría
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
OECD Conference Centre, Paris
(As prepared for delivery)
Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by thanking the Italian Minister of Justice, Mr. Andrea Orlando, for Chairing today’s Anti-Bribery Ministerial Meeting. I would also like to thank our two Vice-Chairs – US Attorney General, Ms. Loretta Lynch and UK Anti-Corruption Champion, Sir Eric Pickles – and the Chair of the Working Group on Bribery, Mr. Drago Kos, for joining us.
Corruption remains one of the most pressing challenges of our time. It’s immoral. It’s wasteful. It promotes mistrust in institutions and markets. It is bad for business and undermines growth. According to our 2014 Foreign Bribery Report, a total of USD 3.1 billion was paid in bribes in the 224 cases covered by the report. On average, the cost of bribes equalled 10.9% of the transaction value and 34.5% of the profits.
The fight against bribery is crucial to help our countries over come the world’s mediocre economic outlook. It is also key to improve public services and address our social challenges. That’s why this meeting is so important.
The presence here today of anti-corruption leaders from all over the world, from public and private sectors, international organisations and civil society, shows the strength of our shared commitment to fight bribery.
The Anti-Bribery Convention is the most important international tool to combat bribing activities, the ‘gold standard’ as named by Transparency International. Since it entered into force in 1999, the Convention has helped governments push the fight against bribery up the agenda. Many have passed laws, strengthened their regulations and ramped up their enforcement capacity in order to comply with the Convention.
The Convention has changed the global landscape. It has sparked debate worldwide about corruption risks, corporate compliance and “red flag” transactions. It has served as a catalyst in many countries for the adoption of corporate liability for corruption offences and helped develop an international network of anti-corruption experts.
The impact of the Convention speaks for itself. Between 1999 and 2014, we have seen 5.4 billion US dollars in combined monetary sanctions. Currently there are over 390 ongoing investigations into alleged acts of foreign bribery in 25 Parties to the Convention, as well as ongoing prosecutions against 142 individuals and 14 companies in 12 Parties for offences under the Convention. And more new cases are being brought to light!
The rigorous peer monitoring process of the Working Party on Bribery is a fundamental driver behind the implementation and development of the Convention’s standards. That is why we are pleased to formally launch today the Phase 4 of the Working Group’s monitoring process. I trust this fourth round of monitoring will be every bit as successful and hard-hitting as the last three phases!
But the road ahead is not without challenges. A significant enforcement gap remains: more than half of the 41 Parties to the Convention have yet to conclude a single foreign bribery enforcement action. This is simply unacceptable. We must also strengthen co-operation with non-member countries. Curbing corruption depends on our ability to join forces and co-ordinate actions globally.
The OECD is helping to address these challenges. We regularly bring law enforcement officials together to build skills and enhance co-operation; we disseminate good practices on detecting and investigating corruption; we collaborate with our international partners such as the United Nations, the G20, and many others on all these issues; we promote better compliance and whistleblower protection standards; and we engage with the private sector and civil society to better understand these issues.
As we move forward, the OECD is focusing on four major and interrelated themes in the international anti-corruption agenda: stronger enforcement; better international co-operation; new frontiers in detection; and cutting edge prevention tools. And we are developing new tools to help you win this battle.
For example, I am proud to launch a new OECD report analysing the public and private sector whistleblower protection frameworks of OECD countries. The OECD Foreign Bribery Report found that one in three foreign bribery cases were instigated by self-reporting, thus underscoring the importance of whistleblower protection. This new report identifies key areas for reform that would facilitate reporting and ensure proper protections for whistleblowers.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This meeting is a wonderful opportunity. An opportunity to extinguish corruption by inaugurating a new era of enforcement. The OECD stands ready to play its part and work hard to strengthen and broaden its work on anti-corruption so that together we can win the battle against the dark side of our economies, and design, deliver and implement better policies for better lives, in a better, fairer, more transparent world.