In this 2011 file photo, a billboard is shown on the Rue Belliard in the European district of Brussels THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Maria Sanchez-Marin
This post originally appeared on the Thomson Reuters TrustLaw blog.
The European Union (EU) is taking a hard look at corruption in its midst, having recently published its first-ever corruption monitoring report. The results are striking: the estimated cost of corruption in the EU’s 28 member states equals €120 billion, a figure nearing the EU’s annual budget.
A sense of corruption problems in Europe has been pervasive in the news. In Spain, Princess Cristina and her husband have been embroiled in a case centered on the alleged embezzlement of €6 million in public funds. In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Petr Necas resigned after a scandal involving illegal surveillance andgraft. He has been recently charged with bribery for offering state posts to former opposition members in return for them leaving office. In Italy, former premier Silvio Berlusconi is back in court (again) on charges of giving a €3million bribe to an opposition politician to switch sides. And the Romanian Parliament voted to exempt top politicians from corruption liability.
Faced with a corrupt judicial system, what strategies do Russian businesses employ to resolve business disputes? Lately, less murder and more litigation.
Faced with multinational firms who are liable under U.S. and U.K. laws for their Russian partners’ corrupt practices, how do Russian businesses gain access to international partners? Start putting in place anti-corruption compliance programs.
Those were some of the answers that came from experts from Russia and the U.S. had some answers at a recent panel discussion co-hosted by CIPE and the Kennan Institute, “Corruption and Business in Russian: National Problem, Regional Solutions.” Jordan Gans-Morse, an assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University, presented the results of his innovative research on how non-oligarchic firms are surviving in an atmosphere of endemic corruption. Against this backdrop, CIPE Moscow Program Officer Natalya L. Titova, joined by CIPE partners from St. Petersburg, Chelyabinsk, and Kaliningrad, spoke about a CIPE program in Russia that is helping regional businesses to meet international anti-corruption standards in order to join global value chains.
To improve local governance in Afghanistan, CIPE conducts training seminars for the Provincial Councils in Afghanistan on democratic governance and market economics, including topics like advocacy, corruption, and the informal economy. Using the knowledge gained from the seminars, many of the Provincial Councils have taken on issues affecting their communities.
CIPE recently discussed the efforts of the Kunar Provincial Council with Chairperson Haji Mia Hassan. After discussing corruption issues with local government officials, the Kunar Provincial Council filed corruption cases against several officials with the prosecutor’s office, including the director of the Customs Department and the Director of Haj and Endowments.
CIPE partner the Iraqi Businessmen Union leads a public-private dialogue session in Baghdad, Iraq.
The Iraqi private sector continues to pursue steps towards building a modern market economy. Over recent decades, Iraq’s institutions supporting the economy became highly centralized as authoritarian rule sought to enhance state economic and political control. In Iraq today, government officials and the business community recognize the need to transform the economy into a modern, market-economy, capable of providing jobs and opportunity to all citizens. Achieving this goal, however, has proven to be a slow and arduous process.
Since 2003 CIPE has supported the Iraqi business community in its efforts to participate more effectively in the country’s economic transition. CIPE has partnered with business associations and civil society to develop provincial and regional business agendas and draft policy papers that increase the information available on issues inhibiting private sector growth.
To supplement the efforts of CIPE’s local partners, CIPE commissioned surveys to measure the views of Iraqi businesses, most of which are small sole-proprietorships, towards the prevailing economic conditions, factors affecting business growth, and a host of other key policy and economic issues.
In this week’s Economic Reform Feature Service Article, Program Officer Jenna Mace presents key results from CIPE’s most recent Iraqi Business Survey. The article includes a discussion of trends in the costs of corruption and opportunities for women, as well as the business community’s views of economic conditions.
Read the entire article here.
John Zanikos is Assistant Program Officer for the Middle East & North Africa at CIPE.
As my colleague Anna Nadgrodkiewicz recently discussed on this blog, corruption is a preeminent threat to developing countries. In Brazil, corruption has been estimated to cost somewhere around $53 billion (approximately 2.3 percent of GDP) in 2013 alone. Because this loss has a corrosive effect on democratic governance and the country’s ability to deliver continued improvement, Brazilians took to the streets in massive protests. As a result the government of Brazil passed the “Clean Companies Act” which began being enforced on January 29.
The new law, like similar legislation in other countries, establishes corporate liability for corrupt practices committed by Brazilian companies as well as foreign companies that have branches or affiliates within the country. Under the act, companies that bribe public officials (foreign or domestic) can be subjected to civil and administrative sanctions including heavy fines, prohibition on receiving state funds, and even dissolution of the firm. The fact that Brazilian president Dilma Rouseff exercised her line-item veto power to make the law more strict than originally drafted seems to signal to the world that Brazil is serious about reining in corruption.
In the wake of the passage of the Clean Companies Act, much talk erupted over the implications for international trade. Since the law closely resembles existing anti-corruption laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act, experts have warned that companies operating in the region can expect Brazilian authorities to cooperate more closely with their counterparts in the US during investigations.
More general discussion has involved the importance of solid compliance programs in multi-national companies (MNCs) if they are to avoid any run-ins with the law. However, such commentary ignores a large audience that should take note of this development: developing countries.
By Jin Xiaoye, CIPE Global Intern
With the Winter Olympics now underway in Sochi, Russia, it is not only the events themselves that are attracting attention: the high cost of the Games and reports of poorly-constructed facilities have garnered headlines alongside the star athletes and their performances. As in other recent cases of major international events held in emerging market countries, the Games are being seen as both a test of the host country’s ability to pull of such an event, and of whether the promised economic impact will materialize.
The Summer and Winter Olympic Games, as well as the Paralympics, are held every four years in a designated host country. These are competitive events for elite world athletes and great cultural exchanges for participating countries. But sporting concerns have increasingly taken a backseat to discussions of the financial and economic impact of the games.
More and more emerging-market countries have been given the opportunity to host major international events in recent years. The 2010 World Cup, hosted by South Africa, proved to be a huge success in many respects – creating a boom in tourism and raising confidence in the country’s economy. But like other recent events, such as the 2008 Summer Olympics in China and the upcoming World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it also generated controversy around the cost and long-term economic impact.
The business community has embraced cooperation with the organizers of the Olympics, a trend which has especially benefitted multinationals and other large businesses. However, corruption and other negative consequences like embezzlement and human rights violations have come to one of the biggest global sports festival too.
On Monday, Americans honored the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose nonviolent activism helped achieve the promise of civil rights for millions of black Americans.
Today, a new generation of activists around the world are using similar nonviolent tactics to try to achieve their own form of social change. In 2013, massive street protests erupted in Ukraine, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, and elsewhere — all with the common goal of ending deep-seating corruption.
But the protests we see on the news are just one manifestation of a growing awareness of the “cancer of corruption” — just as King’s March On Washington For Jobs And Freedom made visible and urgent something that many Americans already knew, deep down, needed to change. And, like the struggle for civil rights in America, this change will not come all at once, but as a result of many small battles fought at different levels of government and society.