Anti-Corruption Laws Gain Traction around the World

June 25, 2012
Categories: Anti-corruption

Recognizing that “corruption impedes economic growth, threatens the integrity of markets, undermines fair competition, distorts resource allocation, destroys public trust and undermines the rule of law,” the G20, in their 2012 Leaders Declaration, called “on all relevant stakeholders to play an active role in fighting corruption.” The Leaders Declaration also granted the Anti-Corruption Working Group a two-year extension, enabling the Group to continue their mission of implementing the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan. The Action Plan calls on G20 members to “lead by example in key areas” such as adopting laws against international bribery, strengthening anti-corruption bodies and preventing corrupt officials from acting and traveling with impunity.

The G20’s continued commitment to anti-corruption is part of a larger international push to adopt anti-corruption measures. Even before the 2012 G20 declaration, several countries had already begun instituting new laws and regulations, some in response to the 2010 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan. Many of these new laws are designed to demonstrate a commitment to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the first global anti-corruption convention, which all G20 members have promised to ratify and implement.

In early June, the President of the United Arab Emirates asked the State Audit Bureau, the country’s sole anti-corruption body, to draft an anti-corruption law. The law will be the country’s first anti-corruption law and will join existing anti-bribery laws already in effect, such as the 2005 amendment to the Federal Penal Code which criminalized soliciting or taking bribes. The new anti-corruption law will serve to further the government’s already articulated zero-tolerance policy in regards to corruption. Although the exact form of the new law remains unclear, many believe it will fulfill the UAE’s promise to implement the UNCAC, which it ratified in 2006.

Working to diminish the influence of corruption in the public sector, a key goal of the UNCAC and the G20 Leaders Declaration, Mexico’s Anti-Corruption in Public Contracts Law came into effect on June 12th of this year. The law prohibits companies from engaging in actions or omitting information which would provide an unlawful advantage in obtaining public contracts. Under the new law, companies can be held liable for bribes paid through third parties as well as by their own employees  The approval of the law came just days after the Mexican comptroller’s office and announced it would be investigating Wal-Mart for bribing Mexican officials. Wal-Mart was already under investigation by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Two days later after Mexico’s law came into effect, the lower house of the Italian Parliament passed its own anti-corruption law. Transparency International reports that the law “could provide greater accountability and transparency…by establishing an independent anticorruption agency and by introducing whistleblower protections.” If the law passes the upper house, this new body will further Italy’s anti-corruption measures and its implementation of the UNCAC.

The UAE, Mexico and Italy represent just a few of the countries that are moving towards more stringent anti-corruption measures. Although the introduction of domestic legislation has been gradual, the pace seems to be quickening.

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