A Conversation with Arkan El Seblani

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Photo Credit: Arab Forum of Anti-Corruption Agencies & Financial Intelligence Units 

Arkan El Seblani manages the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regional anti-corruption initiative in the Arab States. With his experience in private practice as a legal specialist in Lebanon, the United States and Qatar, coupled with more than 12 years’ experience with the UN, Mr. El Seblani brings a level of expertise to his work that uniquely qualifies him to address corruption as well as rule of law issues throughout the region.

During CIPE’s discussion with Mr. El Seblani, he outlined how UNDP supports anti-corruption reform as part of its work to enable the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, including through the actualization of the UN Convention against Corruption: Prevention, Criminalization, International Cooperation, and Asset Recovery. UNDP believes that effectively battling corruption involves many actors across civil society, business and government. UNDP invests in networks and people to create informed demand for a national anti-corruption agenda, while also supporting policy dialogue and targeted training on the supply side.  Read More...

Closing the Feedback Loop through Citizen Engagement

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Photo Credit: Thailand’s Collective Action Coalition against Corruption (CAC)

Bureaucratic red tape and arbitrary decision-making around public services are key conditions that nurture a culture of corruption. Complicated and unclear processes accommodate corrupt practices by creating uncertainties that justify both the demand and supply side of bribery. To effectively mitigate corruption risks, it is essential to improve citizen and private sector feedback to government in public service delivery.

In this regard, Thailand’s Collective Action Coalition against Corruption (CAC) with support from CIPE, developed a platform called “Citizen Feedback” that successfully ran a pilot in autumn of 2017. This platform allows the public to share their opinions on their experience interacting with government service providers, which will ideally lead to a ranking of public offices, similar to TripAdvisor, thus fostering positive competition among agencies.

Anyone can conveniently participate in the Citizen Feedback program by scanning a quick response or ‘QR’ Code located at the agencies they visited.  Read More...

Vinnytsia’s Transparent Office: A Model for Others?

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Photo Credit: Vinnytsia City Council

Corruption in the public sector is a common problem, and exists all over the world. Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and many other countries suffering from endemic corruption are often saddled with complex bureaucracies, which allow corrupt officials to extract vast sums of wealth from citizens in exchange for processing services (filing paperwork, opening businesses, paying taxes, etc.). These systems distort the market, reduce tax collection, marginalize the impact of the business community, and suppress local business in favor of foreign actors with deeper pockets.

A potential solution to this problem can be found in the city of Vinnytsia in Ukraine. No stranger to endemic corruption, Ukraine has undergone various reforms since the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. The Revolution of Dignity was the popular uprising against their corrupt President Viktor Yanukovich, and ultimately led to the Russian occupation of Crimea, and the ongoing conflict with Russia and its proxies in the Donbas region.  Read More...

Your Supply Chain Is As Strong As the Weakest Link – Part II

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Photo Credit: ITprogBlog

This article originally appeared in the TFM Magazine, Volume 2 Number 13, 2018, p. 32 – 35.

Read Part I here

Empowering through knowledge

One of the most identified risk areas for organisations regarding corruption is third-parties acting on behalf of their organisation. In many cases, a third-party is an SME supplier either working independently on behalf of the larger, more established, organisation or as part of a joint venture agreement.

It is imperative that due diligence is done on all third-party representatives as the UK Anti-Bribery Act extends to organisations that do not have the necessary processes in place to prevent corruption.

Therefore, for a larger, more established, organisation to protect itself, third-party representatives must be educated on the expectations the larger organisation has, with clear guidelines on how business should be conducted. For example, a joint venture agreement must be a legally binding contract with expectations and areas of accountability clearly stated.  Read More...

SCCE’s new CEO Gerry Zack talks Compliance with CIPE

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From left to right: Anna Kompanek, Gerry Zack, and Ken Jaques

CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers podcast host Ken Jaques and CIPE’s Director of Global Programs Anna Kompanek, sat down with incoming CEO of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE), Gerry Zack. Zack discusses how fraud and compliance have evolved over the last 30 years. Prior to joining SCCE, Zack spent his career providing services involving the prevention, detection, and investigation of fraud, corruption, and noncompliance.

Check out the podcast below!

  Read More...

Your Supply Chain is as Strong as the Weakest Link – Part I

Photo credit: James Mann

This article originally appeared in the TFM Magazine, Volume 2 Number 13, 2018, p. 32 – 35.

Is the question ‘WIIFM’?

“What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM)

This is the modus operandi most human beings use when making any decision in life. Mostly, making decisions based on this mentality does not cross any of the moral or ethical boundaries that guide society. However, what happens when the ‘WIIFM’ crosses the boundaries of ethics?

Daily, we are confronted by news reports which continually unveil corrupt activities. Of late, there have been email leaks alluding to clandestine operations, the implication of government officials in self-enrichment schemes, poor management of taxpayers’ money, as well as corporate giants supporting suspicious business transactions. For too long there has been a perception that corruption is a victimless crime. However, corruption robs our youth of opportunities and impacts the lives of everyone in any society.  Read More...

Identifying Obstacles to a Corruption-Free Business Environment in Zimbabwe

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Photo Credit: Flickr

Zimbabwe’s stunning overthrow of former President Robert Mugabe shocked the world – mostly because the people of Zimbabwe had just cause to oust him for decades. As president of Zimbabwe, Mugabe was so publicly corrupt that he led to the coining of the term “kleptocrat.” Since his overthrow, the new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has made combating corruption one of the priority focuses of his presidency. During his first State of the Nation address in December 2017 Mnangagwa said: “On individual cases of corruption, every case must be investigated and punished in accordance with the dictates of our laws. There should be no sacred cows. My government will have zero tolerance towards corruption and this has already begun.” Zimbabwe’s neighbors can attest to the fact that implementing and enforcing ambitious anti-corruption reforms are nonetheless quite challenging.

For a country with rampant corruption embedded across most business and industrial sectors, it is not surprising that Zimbabwe ranks 157th (out of 180) in Transparency International’s (TI) 2017 Corruption Perception Index, and 159th out of 190 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, but that does not tell the full story.  Read More...

No More Business as Usual in Africa?

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia Creative Commons

France has long been criticized for falling short on enforcement of its international obligations to fight corruption abroad, including the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention that mandated member states to criminalize bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. That changed with the introduction of Sapin II, a new law similar to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act that penalizes companies for failing to mitigate corruption risks in their operations, including third parties. A significant recent probe under this law shines the spotlight on Africa.

French tycoon Vincent Bollore and two of his associates have been placed under formal investigation over suspicious deals in Guinea and Togo, respectively. An advertising agency tied to Bollore allegedly undercharged the presidents of Guinea and Togo to help them win elections nearly a decade ago and, in return, the Bollore Africa Logistics company won contracts to operate ports in Conakry and Lomé.  Read More...

Private Sector Participation in the Global Magnitsky Act

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Photo Credit: CIPE

On May 15, one day after this blog was originally published by the FCPA Blog, Russian lawmakers adopted in the first reading amendments to the Criminal Code to make it a criminal offence to observe sanctions imposed by the United States or other foreign countries on Russian oligarchs and government officials. The offense is proposed to be punishable by up to four years in prison. The draft also makes it a criminal offense for Russian citizens to help foreign governments sanction senior Russian government officials and oligarchs by providing advice or information, punishable by up to three years in prison. These changes seek to undermine the sanctions introduced by the U.S. Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) adopted in August 2017 and imposed by the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in April 2018. These U.S. sanctions were adopted in response to the Kremlin’s interference in the U.S.  Read More...

Kenya’s Big Five

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Photo Credit: SaBigFive via Wikispaces

Every safari fan knows what the Big Five are – the five large animals that can be found in parts of Africa such as Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve: the lion, rhino, leopard, Cape buffalo, and elephant. These are interesting times to watch Kenya, and not just because the rainy season is soon coming to an end, bringing back the best chance to spot the Big Five on the savanna. On March 9, bitter rivals, President Uhuru Kenyatta and the opposition leader Raila Odinga, shook hands in a historic gesture meant to show willingness to overcome divisions within the country. This is a much-needed signal for the country affected by tribal divisions, and a year-long political conflict after the Supreme Court annulled President Kenyatta’s disputed electoral victory (he still won in the subsequent vote).

While the details of what the handshake deal will translate into in practical terms remain unclear, Odinga publicly threw his support behind Kenyatta’s four-point sweeping agenda for reform.  Read More...