On Tuesday, G20 leaders released their communiqué following the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. The leaders have extended the mandate of the Anti-Corruption Working Group by two years, through the end of 2014. This is an encouraging step by the group as it demonstrates a renewed commitment to focus on anti-corruption, even as the leaders seek to address pressing global economic concerns.
The Anti-Corruption Working Group made of national anti-corruption experts from the G20 countries was formed in 2010, and produced a comprehensive action plan in November of the same year covering a broad range of issues ranging from foreign bribery and anti-money laundering to mutual legal assistance and asset recovery. They released their first monitoring report in 2011. That report showed some progress, but left room for significant improvement. The next monitoring report is expected in November 2012 and anti-corruption activists hope that it shows meaningful and continued progress.
At this year’s summit, the G20 leaders endorsed the principles of denial of entry to G20 countries of corrupt officials (visa denials). They also endorsed the Working Group’s principles for financial and asset disclosure for all relevant officials. While adoption of these principles is a significant step in the right direction, implementation and enforcement of these commitments remains up to national governments. The G20 must make these principles and documents public so that stakeholders can hold their respective national governments accountable.
In that same vein, the G20 member states have committed themselves to publishing Mutual Legal Assistance guides to support governments that intend to recover the proceeds of corruption and other assets that have been stolen and stashed in foreign countries. These guides would greatly expedite the often prohibitively lengthy and complicated process of asset recovery. This measure, when implemented, would streamline the process for countries that seek to recover the assets stolen by their countries’ corrupt public officials. An issue made more relevant by the recent Arab Spring movement. The United States, under its G8 commitments, has already published a Mutual Legal Assistance guide available in many languages, Arabic included. This is a realistic goal for all G20 countries, and could go a long way in supporting the fight against the corruption.
The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group will have its last meeting under the Mexican Presidency in October in Paris. At this meeting, they will prepare the final monitoring report on their commitments in the initial two year time frame. Furthermore, they will decide on the next two co-chairs of the Anti-Corruption Working Group, one of which will be Russia as the new presidency, as well as on a work plan for the new two year mandate. As the 2010 Plan is far from implemented, demonstrating progress on implementation and enforcement will be crucial. The G20 has committed itself to closing the “enforcement gap,” and while the statements made at the Los Cabos summit are laudable, the next monitoring report will be telling.
Shruti Shah (pictured above) is a Senior Policy Director at Transparency International-USA. She previously worked at both PricewaterhouseCoopers and KPMG. She's a CPA (licensed in Colorado), a Chartered Accountant (India), and a Certified Fraud Examiner.
James Pagano is a TI-USA intern for the summer of 2012. He recently graduated from Dickinson College with a double major in International Studies and Political Science as well as a minor in Security Studies.