I would like to thank the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) for co-sponsoring, with the Anticorruption and Transparency (ACT) Working Group, this important dialogue on enhancing our APEC partnership to combat corruption and bribery and to ensure cleaner forms of public and private governance for more transparent markets across the Asia-Pacific region.
Since the creation of the ACT in 2004, the Asia-Pacific corporate community has been among our most ardent champions in APEC in fighting corruption and has led by example, with businesses committing to operate their business affairs with the highest level of integrity and to implement effective anticorruption measures in their businesses, wherever they operate. We applaud this commitment and our public-private partnership with ABAC.
As ACT Chair, I would also like to take this opportunity to applaud my colleagues within the ACT for their commitment over the years to work together to realize the mandate of our Leaders of making anticorruption a priority. We have done this by taking real and pragmatic actions that I believe are making a difference in our economies and bringing together a vibrant ACT network towards collective action to prevent, investigate, and prosecute corruption.
The opportunity to share our good governance practices and experiences from each of our economies – including by exchanging information on our laws, what we do to publicize our enforcement efforts, and what our respective business communities are doing to ensure that they have effective compliance programs to prevent and detect corruption and bribery – has also contributed positively to the success of APEC’s efforts to combat corruption.
Arbitraging the Market Integrity Gap and Reducing Opportunities for Corruption
In November 2010, in Yokohama, Japan, APEC Leaders and Ministers agreed to leverage collective action to combat corruption and illicit trade by promoting clean government, strengthening relevant judicial, regulatory, and law enforcement systems, and enhancing regular reporting of our efforts to implement anticorruption commitments to build communities of integrity.
We can appreciate why Leaders remain focused on good governance and transparency.
Corruption and bribery are not only barriers to economic growth, trade and investment, and market integrity, but also weaken the entrepreneurial spirit that nurtures innovation, openness, and competiveness.
Corrupt practices also corrode the pillars of free and accountable societies, especially at a time when our citizens are demanding more of our governments and expect to be governed with the highest levels of integrity without corruption.
By leading by example, APEC can demonstrate that ethical behavior among public officials can anchor the trust and confidence of the public and markets alike.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently noted in hosting the first forum of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) initiative, corruption, lack of transparency, and poorly functioning governance systems “not only deprive government of revenues; they inflict a quieter and in some ways an even more dangerous cost as well, because they corrode citizens’ trust in each other and in their government. And when those bonds of trust crumble, it becomes much more difficult for communities and countries to make progress.”
As Secretary Clinton also emphasized at the 2011 APEC SOM I meetings in Washington, DC, as our communities demand greater accountability, transparency and participatory governance, we must deliver.
Through collective action, we are working strategically across APEC sub-fora to remove barriers to trade and investment; to create economic opportunities; support balanced, inclusive green growth; and strengthen public-private partnerships that promote clean trade.
The work of the ACT and ABAC has contributed positively to APEC’s open and transparent framework, including through the Santiago Commitment and Course of Action to Fight Corruption and Ensure Transparency, the APEC Code of Conduct for Business, the Conduct Principles for Public Officials, and the Complementary Anti-Corruption Principles for the Public and Private Sectors. The Codes/Principles are being implemented not only through capacity building workshops – such as those in Big Sky at SOM II or on this Friday, September 15th, 2011, on illicit enrichment – but also through the development of public-private partnerships among government and law enforcement officials, civil society representatives, chambers of commerce, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
We must also take seriously the Yokohama commitment to strengthen our efforts to curb corruption and improve enforcement by, for example, reporting and fully implementing our agreed actions to combat corruption and bribery.
Disrupting Illicit Pathways, Dismantling Illicit Networks, and Targeting Illicit Enrichment
This includes, consistent with the Santiago commitments, committing ourselves to implementing the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and undertaking a full review on a wide range of measures, including criminalization, preventive measures, and the recovery of stolen assets.
The UNCAC complements the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, which targets transnational bribery in the conduct of business. As we have recognized in our ACT work, bribery in international business, both on the part of companies bribing government officials and officials demanding bribes from companies to grant them licenses, permits, or business deals, undermines free and fair competition and perpetuates a culture of corruption.
Through our joint efforts in APEC, a commitment to effectively fight transnational bribery around the world is key to ensuring integrity in global markets and supply chains and sustaining not only our shared prosperity but also to protecting the market reputations and brand names of our companies’ internationally-recognized products.
We must also continue to deny safe haven to kleptocrats around the world, to bar their illicitly-acquired assets, and to give notice that continued theft from our economies will not be tolerated. Following the money must be an integral part of our strategies to deny criminals and their networks access to entities and mechanisms used to hide and launder their illicit criminal proceeds. We commend Thailand and the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), and others, for leading ACT capacity-building efforts in recent years to combat money laundering and help track the criminal proceeds of kleptocrats and illicit networks alike. We also look forward to the third Trans-Pacific workshop on combating corruption and illicit trade to be held in Phuket, Thailand in October 2011.
Depriving the networks of their profits and funding is one of the most effective ways to deter them. This requires a holistic, comprehensive anti-money laundering regime with the ability to trace, freeze, and seize assets related to illicit financial flows, while addressing both formal and informal financial networks.
Financial/asset disclosure also serves as a significant anti-corruption measure that discourages both improper interests and improper acts given that improper interests will have to be reported and improper acts will be seen to affect reported interest. Financial/asset disclosure also helps investigators detect the source of corrupt influences and provides documented discrepancies between what is disclosed and the receipt of illicit and unethical gain. In 2011, the ACT will take a comprehensive approach and address ways to plug vulnerabilities upfront in traditional channels prone to corruption and to ensure the public trust in institutions, markets, and supply chains.
Combating corruption and achieving sustainable development and progress in dismantling illicit markets and networks also require collective action and a shared responsibility among APEC partners, as well as close coordination with relevant regional and international organizations that have important expertise and capacities to confront mutually-shared criminal threats in the Asia-Pacific region.
The ACT’s record of achievement to strengthen cooperation with other international and regional organizations has always been strong. We have leveraged new and exciting collaborative platforms with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), OECD, ASEAN, INTERPOL, the International Anticorruption Academy (IACA), as well as with civil society groups such as Transparency International. Next week I have been invited to report on our ACT work at the Steering Group meeting of the ADB/OECD Anticorruption Initiative for the Asia-Pacific region, to be held in New Delhi, India. We plan to encourage greater collaboration with ADB and OECD partners to build further synergies across the Asia-Pacific region and to ensure that activities strengthen overall regional economic integration, expand trade, and promote democratic governance.
The Way Forward: Greater Integrity in APEC Economies, Markets, and Supply Chains
When both public and private sectors lead and partner together, we can create a culture of integrity that has a lasting impact. We can create a better future by uniting in our support of accountability and good governance and against corruption. Through our continued cooperation with our international partners, we can build societies where all individuals can achieve the full extent of their potential. And through a new commitment to responsible governance, we can build a firm foundation to invest the integrity dividends for future generations.
In closing, on behalf of the United States, I wish to applaud our APEC partners for collaborating and participating in today’s dialogue, and in the discussion on anchoring a firm accountability and reporting mechanism to fulfill our Leaders’ commitment to combat corruption and illicit trade and strengthen integrity across our respective economies, markets, and supply chains.