I attended the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-corruption and Integrity Forum held in Paris, France from March 19 to 22. Slightly over 2,000 participants from 120 countries, both speakers and attendees, came together to share (formally and informally) their experiences, challenges, best practices, and perspectives in fighting corruption.
This OECD forum is an international platform that provides opportunities to strengthen friendship among participants comprising corporate compliance officers, law enforcement officers, academics, lawyers, human resource specialists, financial auditors, governance, risk and sustainability consultants, and others, and to enhance cooperation and support for a good cause – fighting the crime of foreign bribery.
Hot topics like blockchain, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence, and other new technologies seem to be the main focus of anti-corruption work for governments, businesses, and societies.
Blockchain technology is a potential platform for illicit trade, money laundering, and tax evasion. Artificial intelligence and algorithms can produce unfair and tailored results or further the interests of their respective owners. Information technologies can and are being used by governments to limit both the privacy and freedoms of citizens.
On the same yardstick, civic technologies can make governments more transparent and accountable while promoting public engagement in anti-corruption efforts.
Thus, depending on who you ask, these new technologies are either potential catalysts for transnational crime or potential tools in the fight against corruption, especially in the current era. Is it a shield or a sword?
The OECD has 36 member countries spanning North and South America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific and is now working closely with emerging economies like China, India and Brazil and developing economies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean to build a stronger, cleaner and fairer world.
It has a Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, which is responsible for monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the 2009 Recommendation, and related instruments. The member countries and eight non-OECD countries – Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, Peru, Russia, and South Africa – have adopted this Convention.
The Working Group on Bribery is now reviewing the 2009 Recommendation on Further Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (2009 Anti-Bribery Recommendation). This recommendation sets critical standards in the fight against transnational bribery and the review would ensure that these standards remain relevant and effective as new challenges arise.
On March 22, 2019, thematic roundtables were conducted to explore ways to strengthen the fight against transnational bribery based on new trends and challenges. The review is scheduled for completion in 2020. As Malaysia is one of the 31 member economies of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific, I would strongly urge the Governance, Integrity and Anti-corruption Centre (GIACC) to take up these challenges and convince the Pakatan Harapan government to become one of the non-OECD countries that are committed to global efforts in fighting bribery of public officials in international trade and investment.
The OECD Anti-bribery Convention is a legal international agreement just like the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which Malaysia signed on Dec 9, 2003, and subsequently ratified on Sept 24, 2008. There is no reason why Malaysia should not sign it, as we share the same objectives in fighting the crime of corruption.