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Former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court to give Keynote Address at Forum of Parliamentarians

GOPAC is honoured to announce that Luis Moreno Ocampo, former Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, will give the keynote address at Ways Forward in Prosecuting Grand Corruption, the second panel at the Fifth Forum of Parliamentarians. Following the address, panelists will embark in a discussion on how to prosecute the gravest acts of corruption. The discussions will form the basis of the Forum’s Declaration and guide GOPAC’s work against grand corruption in the coming years. GOPAC’s Executive Director Akaash Maharaj will be a panelist and will be joined by Jaganathan Saravanasamy, Assistant Director of the Anti-Corruption Sub-Directorate at Interpol, and a representative from Transparency International. 
 
Ways Forward in Prosecuting Grand Corruption is the second of two panels that GOPAC is hosting as part of the Forum of Parliamentarians. GOPAC members and stakeholders are invited to also join us for the first part of the session, Improving Democratic Accountability Globally, which will include panelist Dr. Riccardo Pelizzo, co-author of GOPAC’s latest resource on congressional oversight in presidential systems and a member of GOPAC’s Global Task Force on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.

To register for, or obtain more information about, the Forum of Parliamentarians, please visit: http://gopacnetwork.org/programs/
conferences/forum-for-parliamentarians/

GOPAC Serbia Adopts Two-year
Action Plan

GOPAC Serbia members have been very busy since launching the national chapter in May of this year. Their most recent success is the adoption of a two-year action plan centred on activities that will strengthen capacity and the role of parliamentarians in the fight against corruption. It also aims to engage civil society and ensure they have a prominent role in the fight.

For their next step, the chapter is planning a workshop to be held before the end of 2013.
Among the topics they are expecting to cover, the event will seek to discuss Serbia’s National Anti-corruption Strategy, the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and parliamentary ethics and conduct.

We applaud the hard work and dedication of our fledgling chapter in Serbia and look forward to helping them succeed in their fight against corruption.

GOPAC’s Inaugural Position Paper Tackles International Money Laundering

GOPAC invites all our members and stakeholders to review Transparency Through Beneficial Ownership Declarations, our first in a series of position papers that examine topics of interest to each of our Global Task Forces.

This first paper is presented by our Anti-Money Laundering Global Task Force (GTF-AML) and was authored by our GTF-AML Chair Sen Teofisto Guingona III and GTF-AML member Hon Roy Cullen, with support from GTF-AML members and Priya Sood, the GTF’s Program Advisor. It sets out concrete and effective steps that nations can take to stop international money laundering and thwart the criminal enterprises money laundering supports: organized crime, terrorism, and despotic regimes.
The position paper provides for a fair and balanced distribution of responsibilities by requiring financial institutions to obtain Beneficial Ownership Declarations and depositors to provide the necessary information. It also provides advice on what parliamentarians can do to move this matter forward and ways in which GOPAC can help in this endeavour.

A copy of the position paper is available for download on the GOPAC website.

New Guidelines Help Improve Oversight in the Management of Development Aid

At the end of September, GOPAC and the Parliamentary Network of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (the Parliamentary Network) launched Guidelines to Strengthen Oversight Through Parliamentarian-Donor Collaboration. The resource was created to support parliamentarians fight against corruption by improving oversight in the management of development aid.

The Guidelines are the result of collaboration between GOPAC and the Parliamentary Network over several months. Together we collected feedback from parliamentarians, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to create the final document.
The Guidelines include 14 recommendations on: collaboration between parliamentarians and donor organizations; regulatory frameworks on the management of funds; and the building of institutional oversight capacity. The Guidelines will also help parliamentarians vigorously scrutinize foreign loans and donor assistance programmes, and collaborate with international financial institutions to ensure that all stages of loan negotiations are subject to democratic accountability.

We invite you, GOPAC members and stakeholders, to integrate this information into your strategies to strengthen oversight. We also ask you to please share the guidelines with your colleagues and partners.
Should members of Parliament (MPs) be immune from criminal prosecution during their term?

Share your thoughts here: GOPAC Question of the Month

GOPAC Ukraine Collaborates to Bring Corruption Perpetrators to Justice in the Ukraine

GOPAC Ukraine has been working with the Anti-Corruption Action Center to fight corruption and massive money laundering in the health sector in Ukraine and globally. The two organizations had been monitoring activities of a state-run pharmaceutical company which has now resulted in a criminal investigation involving the company’s Director.

Following repeated request for information by Ukraine parliamentarians which were ignored, the Chair of GOPAC Ukraine Viktor Chumak requested that law enforcement bring the Director to justice for obstructing the work of a member of parliament.
This is just the first step in fighting corruption and money laundering in the Ukraine. GOPAC Ukraine will continue to work with the Anti-Corruption Action Center to ensure proper oversight and use of public procurement funds in Ukraine. These types of activities serve to enrich a small circle of individuals leaving the most vulnerable and most critically in need without the services they need and deserve. GOPAC is encouraged by the hard work and dedication of our members from Ukraine.

The Case for a Public Register of Beneficial Ownership

Since the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland this year, the issues of tax and transparency have been high on the British public agenda.  Prime Minister David Cameron described the event as a chance for developed nations to ‘get our own houses in order’ and put tax base erosion through corporate secrecy at the forefront of the debate.

The creation of a public register of beneficial company ownership is seen as a key tool in combating this problem and London NGOs have been running a vigorous campaign to support it. Declaring his personal commitment to a public register David Cameron announced a consultation on the move, opened by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 15 July.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption (APPG), GOPAC’s UK national chapter, organised a briefing for parliamentarians to discuss the issue and urge them to pressure the Government for a public register.  Held in collaboration with international NGO Christian Aid and investigative human rights organisation Global Witness, the event provided a broad overview of the issue and shocking case studies of the impact of corporate secrecy.  APPG Co-Chair Anas Sarwar MP chaired the event. 

Rosie Sharpe, campaigner in Global Witness’s Banks Team gave the example of Swiss Bank Wegelin which used ‘sham corporations’ to help clients to evade tax, and the notorious Victor Bout who used 12 companies registered in Texas, Florida and Delaware to facilitate arms sales. She also pointed out where British companies have been implicated, such as the UK shell company that was accused by the United Nations (UN) of supplying defence technology and training to Eritrea in violation of UN sanctions.
Barry Johnston, Senior UK Political Adviser at Christian Aid discussed the current efforts to improve corporate transparency. He cited conversations with members of the public who described transparency over who ultimately owns and benefits from companies as ‘a no-brainer.’

The event then opened to general discussion among the parliamentarians and civil society organisations present.  Participants asked about the reasons for not supporting public registers, which were summarised as: cost, privacy, additional regulation and commercial sensitivity. 

Rosie Sharpe provided a rebuttal to each of these points, assuring the meeting that a public registry would be a ‘light-touch’ approach, very much in the interests of legitimate business owners.  She pointed out that for 99 per cent of companies the beneficial owners are the same as the director or shareholder already declarable under UK law. Indeed, the problems flowing from corporate secrecy impact small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular.  SMEs lose huge amounts of money each year when contractors disappear without a trace.

Parliamentarians were particularly keen to discuss how to increase political momentum around the issue.  The importance of cross-national collaboration was raised, with the EU increasingly seen as the forum for multi-state coalition building on financial transparency. All agreed on the importance of maintaining political will. 

The meeting ended with a request for parliamentarians to sign a joint submission to the consultation, drafted by civil society urging the creation of public registers.  The consultation closed the Monday following the event and we are awaiting an announcement in the coming weeks.

GOPAC Kiribati Members Push for Stronger Accountability at International Meeting

Parliamentarians from GOPAC's newest chapter in the Pacific islands of Kiribati, met with GOPAC Oceania Chair John Hyde at the United Nations headquarters for Asia-Pacific in Bangkok, Thailand.

Kiribati members of Parliament (MPs) and GOPAC Kiribati members Martin Tofinga MP, John Hyde, GOPAC Oceania Chair, Ms Tangariki Reete MP, Tetan Mweretaka MP, and Teatao Teanaki MP (former President and longest serving MP) discussed anti-corruption issues on the sidelines of the Sixth Asia-Pacific Population Conference (APPC), the biggest ever United Nations meeting in the Asia-Pacific.

Kiribati took a major role at the APPC, with their President Anote Tong chairing the ministerial meeting of the 47 nations attending.
Mr Hyde praised the commitment of the Kiribati MPs and other GOPAC members at the APPC who committed to accountability measures in implementing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 agenda.

"Under leadership from Kiribati MPs, a majority of nations committed to empower communities to ensure the accountability of governments as well as health and social service providers in the implementation of ICPD programmes," said Mr Hyde.

Statement by GOPAC on the Philippines Commission on Audit Report

GOPAC has received a copy of the Philippines’ Commission on Audit (COA) Report into the Philippines’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), which was prompted by what has become known as the “pork barrel scandal”.

The report names former Philippine Senator and recently-elected GOPAC Chair Edgardo J. Angara, and raises concerns about PDAF funds directed by his office between 2007 and 2009.

Mr Angara has informed GOPAC that, in accordance with our governance policies, he will submit a documentary report to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors for its review, which is charged with determining next steps.

Mr Angara has made it clear that he intends to dispute and refute any allegations of impropriety in his work with the PDAF and clear his name, and that he will co-operate fully with the relevant Philippine authorities investigating the matter.

The assertions of the COA are still in the process of being investigated and validated by the Philippines’ Inter-Agency Anti-Graft Council (IAGC). In the interest of proceeding impartially, fairly and with full information to uphold our Code of Conduct, GOPAC looks forward to the IAGC’s findings and to receiving Mr Angara’s report.
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