Incidents of international business bribery are on the rise in the Asia-Pacific and leading the 21 APEC member economies to join forces in a bid to combat this shared threat to market growth and development.
Senior anti-corruption officials from the region convened this week in Lima to assess the changing conditions that are fueling the bribery of public officials in cross border business transactions and take forward new collaborative measures for addressing them.
“Business bribery is an increasing drain on economies and social progress in Peru and throughout the Pacific Rim,” said the Honorable Pablo Sanchez, Attorney General for Peru and 2016 Chair of the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group, which guides the region’s prevention and enforcement efforts.
“The growth of new market opportunities facilitated by greater economic integration and prosperity in the region have also raised the potential for unethical practices by businesses and public officials,” he explained. “APEC economies are committed to nurturing anti-corruption institutions and policies within the public and private sectors to crack down on foreign bribery.”
Each year, corruption costs economies globally more than USD2.6 trillion, or five per cent of overall gross domestic product, according to the World Bank. It is also estimated to increase the cost of doing business by more than ten per cent while deterring foreign and domestic investment and raising the cost of public servies and infrastructure projects.
Many APEC economies have achieved progress in reducing petty corruption in the public sector, but corruption both in the private sector and at high levels of government are on the rise, Transparency International reported in a briefing here for officials.
“There is a lot of information and experience out there that can help to build an economy’s defenses against corruption which APEC is actively working to harness and leverage,” Attorney General Sanchez noted.
Officials stepped up exchanges of technical expertise to support the criminalization and prosecution of bribery cases by APEC economies, in coordination with the OECD. Attention centered on building awareness of legal frameworks, legislation and investigation procedures as well as the regulation of corporate liability and implementation of international standards.
The delivery of training to help firms adopt corporate compliance programs that foster greater transparency and integrity within the private sector is a complementary focus, in partnership with the APEC Business Advisory Council.
Officials are also pressing ahead with implementation of the landmark APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies, or ACT-NET, to accelerate the sharing of ongoing case information between APEC economies to boost the prosecution of corruption and bribery, and asset recovery in the region.
The third ACT-NET focal point meeting will take place in Lima this August to address the operational development and application of this tool, in conjunction with the next gathering of the APEC Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group here.
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