Joining forces in the fight against Grand Corruption

17 July 2017

On the 5 July 2017 Transparency International published its UK Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker. Citing the lack of any formal accountability mechanism to accompanying last year’s Anti-Corruption Summit, Transparency International have put together a “pledge tracker” to do it themselves.

The tracker assesses commitments made by the UK Government at this Summit and what progress has been made - whether Overdue, Pending, Underway or Complete. Progress in this area was actually made on the same day as the UK’s National Crime Agency revealed that it will host the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC). This was one of the commitments made at the Summit.

Who is involved?

The IACCC brings together specialist law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions into a single location to tackle allegations of grand corruption. 

Law enforcement agencies that are members of the IACCC are:

  • National Crime Agency
  • Australian Federal Police
  • New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office
  • New Zealand Police
  • Canadian Mounted Police
  • Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau of the Republic of Singapore
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

Agencies planning to join IACCC later this year are: Interpol; US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Switzerland and Germany were involved in the design and establishment of the IACCC and will remain observers, participating in the IACCC Governance Board meetings as occasion demands.

Non-participating law enforcement agencies can refer cases of grand corruption to the IACCC but it is not intended that members of the public or non-law enforcement agencies should make direct referrals.

What is “grand corruption”?

In launching this initiative the NCA underlines that “grand corruption can include acts of corruption by politically exposed persons (PEPs) that may involve vast quantities of assets.” It continues: “acts that might fall into this category include bribery of public officials, embezzlement, abuse of function or the laundering of the proceeds of crime”. Grand corruption threatens political stability and sustainable development: “It increases poverty and inequality, undermines good business and threatens the integrity of financial markets.”

The announcement said that “International corruption requires a global response; it is a threat to democracy, destabilising, corrosive of good governance and an impediment to economic development.”

As a side note, it is interesting that PEPs are back in the spotlight once again in respect of bribery and corruption. We have seen them in the spotlight recently  in relation to Money Laundering Directives (see our blog here) and the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders under the Criminal Finances Act 2017 which make it easier for politically exposed persons, their immediate family or known close associates to be targeted under a statutory presumption that they were involved in serious criminality.

What will the IACCC do?

This is the first law enforcement partnership specifically coordinating the global response to grand corruption. The NCA confirms that whilst significant cooperation between the countries in tackling cross-border serious crime currently takes place, no mechanism, to date, has prioritised or coordinated specific action against grand corruption. 

The IACCC has three key objectives:

1.   Improving fast-time intelligence sharing;

2.   Assisting countries that have suffered grand corruption; and,

3.   Helping bring corrupt elites to justice.’

The UK has committed to hosting the IACCC until 2021 and will be supported by UK government departments.

It has long been recognised that cross-jurisdictional cooperation is critical for agencies tackling the increasingly global nature of crimes involving bribery and corruption, as with terrorism (See our blog on Europol here). It is interesting that the UK is hosting the IACCC and will be at the centre of global efforts to tackle corruption. However, there does not appear to have been much fanfare surrounding the creation of the IACCC since the UK Anti-corruption Summit last year. The NCA issued a news bulletin on 5 July 2017 but no official announcement from the Prime Minister has been made. 

Ultimately the effectiveness of the IACCC will depend on the enthusiasm of the member agencies and their respective governments for cooperation and communication with each other. A multilateral approach to crime prevention is always welcome - particularly if it solves some of the well-founded concerns about lack of double jeopardy protections in multi-jurisdictional investigations - but we will have to wait to see the level of commitment the IACCC receives from the UK in practical terms before assessing the value of this new body.

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