Breaking the chain of corruption - International Anti-Corruption Day 2015

January 01, 1970

United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day was marked on 9th December with a focus on how corrupt practices around the world undermine democracy and the rule of law, violate human rights, rig trading markets and allow terrorism and organised crime to threaten global security.

International Anti-Corruption Day has become a powerful platform for companies and individuals to influence governments around the world to strengthen sanctions, make settlements public and reinforce whistleblower protection.

Corruption in 2015

2015 will be remembered as a seminal year in the fight against corruption.  This year FIFA, football's multibillion-dollar world governing body, became engulfed by an investigation of systemic corruption when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Swiss authorities arrested several top executives in a dramatic pre-dawn raid at a hotel in Zurich.

Current and former senior soccer officials were targeted with charges including racketeering, money laundering and fraud.  It is suspected bribes totaled $150 million.  Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and Switzerland have also all opened or intensified separate criminal investigations into top FIFA officials for corruption.

Similarly in Cricket, an anti-corruption unit has been sifting through 450 intelligence reports in its management of "a whole series of ongoing investigations" around the world.  While no announcement has been made, one detailed investigation is at an advanced stage and involves agencies from several different countries.

#breakthechain campaign

For this year's Anti-Corruption Day the UN launched the #breakthechain campaign, aiming to show corruption is not merely a financial or criminal matter, and attempting to bring wider global recognition that corruption reinforces global poverty, leads to adverse environmental impacts and undermines international goals on sustainable development.

While corruption is still a pressing issue globally, and a serious problem in many countries, a more positive outlook is emerging.  In an address this year, UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, said: "Where once bribery, corruption and illicit financial flows were often considered part of the cost of doing business, today corruption is widely, and rightly, understood as criminal and corrosive."

Ban Ki-moon continued: "The new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development… recognises the need to fight corruption in all its aspects and calls for significant reductions in illicit financial flows as well as for the recovery of stolen assets."

The UN Secretary General called for "united efforts" in the fight against corruption and implored people to embrace "principles of transparency, accountability and good governance".

Anti-corruption laws and regulations

The US, EU, individual European states, and members of the G20 are implementing new laws and regulations to stamp out corruption in high value, complex and vital public procurement procedures.  On average, procurement by public bodies amounts to between 15 and 30 per cent of gross domestic product and in some countries this can be significantly greater, creating the opportunity for corrupt activities.

According to Transparency International, 10 to 25 per cent of public procurement money may disappear into the pockets of the corrupt, and the European Commission estimates that €120 billion is lost each year in its member states.  To put this into perspective, it is almost the entire annual budget of the European Union.

2016 will be a significant year for the global anti-corruption effort, as more cases against top industry officials are concluded and significant milestones are met with new legislation.  It is not time to rest on our laurels, there is still much more work to be done, but we can at least take this day to look back on a successful year in the fight against corruption safe in the knowledge that we are winning.

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