‘Rhetoric exceeds action’, says Transparency International report on G8 promises

Report calls for G8 to report on their progress in fighting corruption in 2008

Berlin, 5 June 2007 – Transparency International’s (TI) ‘G8 Progress Report’ , issued today in Berlin, a day ahead of the Group of Eight (G8) Summit in Germany, concludes that although many laudable commitments have been made towards fighting corruption and improving governance, follow-through on them has been meagre.

The report, compiled by Transparency International chapters in G8 countries, looks at several different issues, from cracking down on bribery abroad by G8-based companies, to better tracking of illicit funds in the global financial system, and the strengthening of a global legal framework against corruption.

The report also calls on the G8 provide a rigorous self-assessment on implementing their past pledges when they convene in 2008 in Japan.

“We see that the governments of the G8 are well aware of what is needed in the fight against corruption,” said Huguette Labelle, TI’s Chair. “They use the right language. But four and five years down the road, political will has not been sufficient to turn these commitments into action. We would not deny that criminalising foreign bribery or ratifying a global anti-corruption convention are easy tasks, but they are achievable, and the resources are there.”

Enforcing Anti-Bribery Laws: Drawing from an in-depth report to be issued in July, the G8 Progress Report concludes that Canada, Japan and the UK are failing to enforce the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, undermining their credibility in calling for better governance in the developing world. Foreign bribery will continue to undermine reform in developing countries unless all parties vigorously enforce their laws.

Leveraging Export Credit Agency Financing to Reduce Corruption: The Report concludes that each of the G8 export credit agencies (ECAs) except for the EXIM Bank of Russia appear to have taken some steps to encourage customers to comply with anti-bribery laws; however, all G8 ECAs must do more to turn commitments into action.

Ratifying and Implementing the UN Convention against Corruption: The Report calls on Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan to ratify the UN Convention immediately. It also calls on all G8 countries to move forward with full implementation and monitoring of commitments. The UN Convention establishes global benchmarks on anti-corruption legislation and commits parties to mutual legal assistance when investigating corruption.

Promoting Revenue Transparency through the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative: The Report calls on those G8 countries with substantial energy resources — Canada, Russia, the UK and the US — to implement the EITI in their own countries. It also calls on Italy, Japan and Russia to join the ranks of G8 countries that give financial support to the EITI. In addition, it calls on all G8 countries to provide financial support and safeguards for civil society organisations engaged in advocating for transparency, and monitoring implementation and progress.

Looking to the Future: Increase Transparency of Financial Institutions and Markets: The Report calls for prompt implementation of G8 commitments to prevent the misuse of financial markets and institutions for illicit purposes by increasing transparency and strengthening oversight.

The bottom line, the report concludes, is that, “As the world’s leading economies, G8 countries have a special responsibility to promote accountability, starting at home.” Commenting on the relevance of these findings to this year’s summit, Cobus de Swardt, TI’s Managing Director, noted, “Corruption control and better governance are inextricable from the overarching goal of this year’s summit, which is ‘Growth and Responsibility’. Whether it is regulating hedge funds, stemming climate change, or ensuring that no further generation in Africa must live in abject poverty, governance and transparency form a golden thread. It is time for the G8 to turn its promises into action”

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