Created in 1999, the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific supports its members in strengthening their policies, legislation, institutions and practices to fight corruption. The Initiative offers experts in Asia and the Pacific opportunities to work with colleagues from around the globe to address emerging challenges in the fight against corruption, and to seek solutions.
Recent corporate corruption scandals, many of which involved major multinational enterprises, have brought the spotlight onto business bribery. Several countries in Asia-Pacific have already responded by initiating anticorruption campaigns targeting this phenomenon. To further these efforts and to exchange experience, the members of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific dedicated the 6th Regional Anti-Corruption Conference for Asia and the Pacific on 26–28 November 2008 to Fighting Corruption in Asia- Pacific: Strategies for Business, Government, and Civil Society.
Combating corruption in business transactions — a priority for governments,
Corruption increases the cost of doing business. In addition to its social costs, it has an adverse impact on a country’s business and investment climate. The need to fight corruption is universally acknowledged, and many governments have put comprehensive legal systems in place to do so. However, enforcement remains inadequate, with some notable exceptions. This could soon change, as governments in Asia and the Pacific increasingly understand the importance of fighting corruption to foster economic prosperity.
The role of international criminal law standards in combating bribery
Countries can significantly reduce corruption in business transactions by accepting a zero-tolerance policy toward companies and individuals that engage in corrupt acts. Criminal law is a key deterrent to bribery and corruption. However, legal offenses must cover all forms of corrupt behaviour, and must be reinforced by effective procedural measures, such as mutual legal assistance and the confiscation of proceeds of corruption.
Corporate compliance programs and integrity systems
All stakeholders must contribute to the fight against corruption in business. Businesses, which are often the source of bribes and illicit payments, also have a role in reducing corruption—and have begun to act accordingly. Individual companies are taking action, and some industries in specific countries have taken collective steps as well. This chapter summarizes anti-corruption action at the individual-company level, which was discussed in the workshop on Corporate compliance programs and integrity systems. (Chapter 5 presents the workshop on collective action by businesses).
Conflict of interest — the soft side of corruption
The intersection of the public and private sectors creates opportunities for bribery.but corruption does not always manifest itself as a financial crime. Conflicts of interest occur when private interests compromise official, public, or organizational interests. This workshop defined conflict of interest, and presented emerging issues in identifying and managing real and potential conflicts. The session addressed country-specific approaches to managing conflicts of interest, and showed that the relationship between conflict of interest and corruption is highly subjective issue. The perspectives of the private sector, and the legal and auditing professions were presented.
Working together to combat corruption: International and regional initiatives
With the growth of multinational enterprises and transnational economic ties, governments and businesses have created regional and global alliances to respond to corruption and related crimes. Through these initiatives, governments and businesses seek to jointly address common challenges and to minimize risks in a sensitive environment. These programs can address corruption in general, or on industry-specific issues. These international initiatives play an important role in driving reform. However, their impact largely depends on implementation at the country level, which is often driven or supported by civil society.
Private-to-Private Corruption: The Last Piece of the Puzzle
Bribery and corruption involving public officials have been on the international policy agenda for decades. Corrupt practices within and between enterprises ("private-to-private corruption"), on the other hand, have only recently emerged as an area of concern. Private-to-private corruption’s harmful effect on the business and investment climate, and on the public interest more generally, is increasingly acknowledged—especially as private enterprises provide more public services. The inclusion of a non-mandatory offense of private-to-private corruption in the UN Convention against Corruption testifies to the global recognition of the increasing importance of tackling private-to-private corruption.
Fighting corruption and the sustainable development agenda
Corruption inflicts profound harm upon development, and particularly on the poor. Countries in Asia-Pacific thus emphasize measures for improving governance and fighting corruption in order to lay a sound basis for further economic and social development. Development partners support these efforts. To enhance the impact of their work, they coordinate their efforts through the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Increasingly, development partners also address the risks of corruption in their own programs and projects, both collectively and individually.
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