Anti-bribery convention

Joining Forces Against Corruption: G20 Business & Government (Closing remarks)


Closing remarks by Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, delivered at G20-OECD Conference: Joining forces against corruption: G20 business and government 

OECD Headquarters, 28th April 2011

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon:

It is a pleasure to join you again as we close this G20–OECD Anti-Corruption Conference. We are very proud to have hosted such an important event.

This is the first time that companies and governments from G20 countries have been brought together at such a high level to address the multi-faceted prism of anti-corruption. We have discussed a range of real and very concrete issues, from legal frameworks to business compliance programmes, from public procurement to industry sectors’ initiatives, as well as the “grey areas” of lobbying and “revolving doors”.

I would like, therefore, to congratulate the French G20 Presidency and in particular Minister Lagarde, for this initiative. This was not just another conference, but a real set of exchanges and frank discussions between relevant actors in the fight against corruption, aiming at contributing concretely to the G20 agenda. It is also a   landmark in this year of celebrations of the OECD’s 50th Anniversary and its quest for better policies for better lives. Thanks to you all for making this happen.

Anti-corruption has become a top global priority

The fight against corruption has become a top global priority, and it is central to our mission. Corruption adds up to 10% to the total cost of doing business globally, and up to 25% to the cost of procurement contracts in developing countries.  This is not only a question of ethics; we simply cannot afford such waste.

This is why policy-makers and business leaders around the world have been pressing for greater transparency and coordination. The global anti-corruption movement is quite strong with a wide range of international, regional and national instruments, tools, and players. It may be a crowded context, but a necessary one.

We need to take specific action. Organisations like ours can play a useful role in providing practical, clear advice to businesses, while at the same time supporting governments to build effective anti-corruption frameworks and ensure a clean and transparent environment.

The OECD has been at the forefront of these anti-corruption efforts. Be it on bribery, public procurement, export credits, aid, tax heavens, we develop global frameworks and standards to address problems of corruption in these areas.  But this is just the first step. These tools need a clear implementation and enforcement efforts. For anti-bribery, for example, we are proud to see that  since the entry into force of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 1999, 290 companies and individuals have faced criminal sanctions for foreign bribery, and 54 of those individuals face prison time.  But, even here, only five signatories to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention have sanctioned individuals or companies in the past year. So we need to continue the effort.

We also need to keep up updating the instruments. Just now, we are reviewing our Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises that set standards for responsible business conduct. Last year, the OECD’s 34 Member countries, Brazil, Russia, and other partner countries agreed to a Declaration on Propriety, Integrity and Transparency in the Conduct of International Business and Finance. The OECD is also developing a comprehensive anti-corruption initiative called to make sure that our own tools are coherent, implemented properly and that they complement each other.

Finally, we believe that peer review works. It is not only about standards but to have effective mechanisms to monitor progress. The OECD Integrity Framework for example has shown interesting findings when applied to such different countries such as Mexico, the US or Brazil. The more countries we have performing these assessments and sharing their experience, the more we will be prepared to address specific concerns.

But, more than anything else, we need strong political will and this is what the G20 brings to it. I am really pleased to see that the French President and Madame Lagarde have this topic high on the agenda, following the adoption of the G20 anti-corruption plan. We have seen the impact we can have when committed leaders use the work and standards of an intergovernmental organisation like the OECD to achieve concrete outcomes. It happened to us in the fight against tax heavens and is happening to us again in our fight against international bribery where, thanks to the good job done at the G20 anti corruption Working group lead by Madame Jeanblanc Rissler, several countries have adopted anti-bribery bills that comply with OECD criteria. Just yesterday, Russia approved its bill and will thus be ready to join the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention next may during our 50th Anniversary celebrations. This is a real breakthrough.

This Conference is a contribution to this goal. We need to look ahead and work with the French Presidency of the G20 to put words into action. The conclusive document of this Conference provides a roadmap, a quite a substantive document, introducing concrete lines of action, regarding internal controls or the protection of whistleblowers in companies. There is also more for governments to do, in particular to ensure that those companies doing a good job are rewarded.

The Business 20 process and its dialogue with G20 Leaders constitute a unique opportunity to bring these key elements together. A business pledge would be a great vehicle for such commitments and could be presented to the G20 Leaders in Cannes.

Thank you again and, as the French would say, bonne continuation.