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Leaders' Statement

Colin Nicholls QC

Barrister and Queen's Counsel

Colin Nicholls QC, Tim Daniel, Alan Bacarese, John Hatchard and James Maton, authors of ‘Corruption and Misuse of Public Office’ OUP, 2011’.

England, Europe

Bio

Colin Nicholls QC – a barrister and Queen’s Counsel whose specialist experience includes war crimes, bribery and corruption, complex commercial crime, cybercrime, extradition, criminal mutual assistance and human rights.

Statement

Corruption and Misuse of Public Office: Act Now

We ask that you recall that UNCAC with the support of international and regional organisations has provided the basic legal tools required to combat corruption and promote good governance and recognise that corruption breeds poverty, discontent, and failed states.

In this statement we call upon participating States urgently to fulfil their treaty obligations by seeking ways to ‘persuade’ even the most reluctant states, financial institutions and corporate entities to develop and publish anti-corruption plans and strategies; developing effective independently monitored codes of conduct and asset declaration mechanisms and legal protection for whistleblowers; and strengthening money laundering supervisory bodies and powers to seize corrupt assets.

We can seize more corruptly stolen and laundered assets (UNCAC Chapter V) by:

  • Implementing without delay automatic confiscation of unexplained assets by means of unexplained wealth orders as recommended in Transparency International’s proposed property confiscation regime;
  • Prosecuting and de-licensing professional enablers and imposing effective penalties for breaches;
  • Enacting cybercrime laws and laws and regulations relating to virtual currencies such as bitcoin;
  • Extending the criminal liability of organisations for failure to have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery (s. 7 UK Bribery Act) to all cases of economic crime;
  • Providing locus for private parties and designated organisations (such as Transparency International and Global Witness) to bring actions in respect of corrupt conduct in performing government contracts, and asset recovery proceedings in respect of all assets including those held in the UK or abroad by or through UK/Overseas Territory/Crown Dependency registered entities;
  • Setting up an International Trust Fund specifically for the purpose of funding asset recovery proceedings.
  • Providing adequate resources for supervision and law enforcement.

Leaders must foster transparency by requiring all companies that own property or participate in or bid for public contracts for the supply of public goods, services and infrastructure to disclose as open data the persons who control and benefit from their decisions; their taxes, profits, and other key economic data for each country in which they do business, with a system for publicly reviewing such contracts on an on-going basis.

Governments can require that corporate beneficial owners of property be registered as such at the Land Registry on sale or purchase of property through a company and, in the event of non-compliance, confiscate the property.

The Summit can provide a spur to promoting transparency and equality of treatment in tax treaties by publishing criteria used to guide decisions about when, where and how they are negotiated and the objectives for each negotiation.

Finally, we need to see leadership by example. Public office comes with a responsibility for transparency. Given the prevalence of corruption around the world and the widespread degrees of impunity being achieved by the corrupt, we must see greater disclosure by senior public officials and politicians of their assets and tax returns.

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We are grateful to all the authors and contributing organisations within this Manifesto and to the partner organisations that helped to convene this landmark collection of anti-corruption statements from across a wide range of business and civil society leaders. The partners for the Leaders' Anti-Corruption Manifesto are The B Team, Thomson Reuters, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the ONE campaign and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

This project is supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network.

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