Author: Sandro Kevkhishvili
On May 12, the world's first Anti-Corruption Summit was held in London. The summit was hosted by the British Prime Minister David Cameron and included government leaders, business and civil society organizations from 40 countries.
The summit was aimed at developing a new strategy to combat corruption worldwide. The strategy is based on three main principles:
1. Corruption should be exposed – ensuring there is nowhere to hide;
2. The corrupt should be pursued and punished and those who have suffered from corruption fully supported;
3. Corruption should be driven out – wherever it may exist.
The goal of the summit coincides with the 16th Goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, which involves significantly reducing corruption by 2030 worldwide. In addition, the specific commitments developed during the summit are primarily based on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).
During the summit, participant countries signed a global declaration against corruption and prepared a summit communique containing specific commitments. In addition, each participant country undertook individual commitments to combat corruption.
The main achievement of the Anti-Corruption Summit is that it serves a new international platform for combating corruption, where specific goals can be set.
Another important achievement is the fact that the participant countries agreed on the need to eliminate corruption by focusing their efforts against its main characteristic - secrecy. They also agreed that combating corruption requires a combined international effort not only from states, but also from civil society, international organizations, private sector, academia and activists.
The Problem of Offshore Companies
The London Anti-Corruption Summit coincided with the publishing of the Panama Document, the largest recent international scandal that once again demonstrated how offshore companies are used to launder money.
Perhaps this served as the basis for the summit’s focus on the need to disclose offshore company ownership. 6 participant countries pledged to set up registries of beneficial owners of offshore companies (Afghanistan, France, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria and the United Kingdom).
Another 6 countries (Georgia, Australia, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Norway) committed to exploring the possibility of creating such a registry.
The London Anti-Corruption Summit communique lists 34 goals, including:
Commitments Taken by Georgia
The London Anti-Corruption Summit was attended by the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili and the Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani. Georgia undertook the following commitments:
1. In order to expose corruption, Georgia will:
- Consider setting up a registry for offshore companies beneficial owners.
- Ensure that law enforcement agencies have access to information about the beneficial owners of offshore companies. It will also sign bilateral agreements with partner countries for the purpose of exchanging this information.
- Take necessary steps in order to ensure the transparency of ownership of companies taking part in public procurement.
- Form public-private information sharing partnerships aimed at detecting, preventing and disrupting money laundering.
- Implement the principles of the Open Contracting Data Standard and the Open Data Charter. It will also request the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to conduct its Fiscal Transparency Evaluation. Definition:
- Will work with partner countries to come up with better ways of disclosing ownership information of companies involved in the oil, gas and mineral industries.
- Consider signing up to the Common Reporting Standard initiative. The initiative involves government obtaining information from their financial institutions and automatically sharing it with other countries. The standard was prepared in 2014 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
2. In order to punish the corrupt, Georgia will:
- Create a database of companies with final convictions and consider sharing this information with other countries.
- Consider ways to strengthen the legislation on stolen assets and improving the management of returned stolen assets.
3. In order to drive out corruption, Georgia will:
- Join the International Sport Integrity Partnership, which will be launched in 2017.
- Join practitioner partnerships on institutional integrity, coordinated by the OECD.
- Take part in the Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub, which will soon be set up to develop new approaches and technologies for combating corruption.
- Work with others countries, civil society and international organizations to support the accelerated implementation of the voluntary provisions of the UN Convention Against Corruption.
- Supports the establishment of the OECD anti-corruption center.
Initiatives Georgia Abstained from
Unlike 6 participant countries, Georgia abstained from committing to setting up a registry of beneficial owners of offshore companies. Instead, the country will simply consider this possibility.
Georgia has abstained from committing to restrict offshore companies from participating in public procurement.
Unfortunately, the Georgian government did not go as far as directly committing to joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
Despite Georgia’s active involvement in the Open Government Partnership, the country has not mentioned including any anti-corruption commitment in its National Action Plan.
Finally, Georgia’s country statement does not contain any commitments regarding the improvement of legislation on whistleblower protection or the criminalization of foreign bribery.
Georgia's participation in the London Anti-Corruption Summit is undoubtedly a positive event. We welcome the government's decision to take a number of specific anti-corruption commitments. However, unfortunately, the Georgian government has abstained from joining a number of important international initiatives.
Even though the commitments taken by Georgia are voluntary, we still hope that their implementation will not be delayed. For this purpose, we urge the Georgian government to identify the public agencies responsible for each commitment, to set specific deadlines and to involve the civil society in the implementation process.
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