United Against Corruption: Op-Ed By British Ambassador Moazzam Malik On Anti-Corruption

British Ambassador to Indonesia opines on the International Anti-Corruption Day (9 Dec) by highlighting the result of 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London

Moazzam Malik

Moazzam Malik

Today (9 December 2017) is International Anti-Corruption Day. It’s the day in 2003 that 140 countries came together to sign the United Nations Convention against Corruption. Today, people around the world are joining forces under the banner “United Against Corruption” to raise awareness and to fight this crime.

It is also nearly two years since the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London, when the UK hosted a unique coalition of governments, businesses, civil society, law enforcement, sports committees and international organizations to step up global action to expose, punish and drive out corruption.

Corruption is one of the great obstacles to economic and social development. It is at the heart of many of our problems. Every year, World Bank estimates show that US$1 trillion is paid in bribes and US$2.6 trillion is stolen through corruption — a sum equivalent to more than 5 percent of global GDP.

Since the Summit, the UK has implemented a number of major commitments. For example, we have established a new International Anti-Corruption Coordination Center to help coordinate law enforcement efforts; established a Public Central Register of company beneficial ownership information in June 2016, which has been accessed over 2 billion times; and introduced the Criminal Finances Act, which establishes new anti-corruption tools and powers.

In July 2016, the UK became the first G7 country to undergo the IMF’s Fiscal Transparency Evaluation. And we have published a new UK Code for Sports Governance in October 2016.

Alongside this, we have held events to promote discussion and cooperation in Washington (focusing on the recovery of stolen assets); in New York at the UN General Assembly (on anti-corruption, growth and the Sustainable Development Goals); and with Colombia, France, Mexico, and Ukraine under the auspices of the Open Government Partnership Global Summit 2016.

Indonesia is also demonstrating its commitment to tackle corruption. Indeed, no country has made more progress on its London Summit commitments than Indonesia. According to a recent Transparency International report, Indonesia has completed 16 of its 19 commitments, including the six most ambitious. Indonesia has improved its systems to protect whistleblowers, as well as strengthened its central database of public contracting companies with final convictions.

Indonesia has made progress on establishing a public register with information on company beneficial ownership. It is also working hard to improve transparency around beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements to prevent misuse of such arrangements for corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering.

And increasingly, public services are becoming more transparent as they are moved on to e-government platforms, thereby reducing the scope for illicit demands and bribes.

Alongside these policy steps, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is continuing to build a formidable reputation as an anti-corruption body.

It is rare to see major public figures convicted of corruption in developing countries. The KPK’s success against this backdrop is exemplary. Effective anti-corruption bodies rarely have friends. This is a reputation that deserves to be protected by Indonesian leaders and activists.

These achievements are testament to the will of President Joko Widodo and the efforts of his government. Alongside an increasingly active civil society and an effective KPK, these efforts have improved Indonesia’s position in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index from 122 in 2003 to 90 in 2017.

It is also clear that Indonesia is increasingly being seen as a global leader in efforts to tackle corruption. In October, the Indonesian government hosted the largest ever conference on Beneficial Ownership. Attended by 52 countries involved in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, the conference aimed to promote more transparency of companies and assets with the intention of reducing corruption and money laundering. A Presidential decree to serve as the legal basis for Beneficial Ownership disclosure has been signed by six ministers and is now waiting President Jokowi’s approval.

Next week, Indonesia will host the second annual International Business Integrity Conference, which will bring together leading policymakers and practitioners to explore issues facing the private sector. And in the days following, the Open Government Partnership will hold their Asia- Pacific Leaders Forum.

The UK government is pleased to stand alongside Indonesia on these issues. We are committed to working with Indonesia to eradicate corruption, help build a better business environment and to support Indonesia’s emergence as a leading G20 country.

Sharing information, working together and promoting best practice are essential if we together are to win the fight against corruption. UK experts are actively sharing our experience for example at the recent Beneficial Ownership conference, which was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, and at next week’s International Business Integrity conference.

Indonesia is making solid progress in the fight against corruption. Your experience is a source of inspiration and learning for us and other international partners.

But of course the fight continues. Much more still needs to be done. And we must continue to work together because this is a problem that cannot be tackled alone. International Anti-Corruption day reminds us of this responsibility.

We must remain steadfast and we must strengthen our resolve. For the sake of global development and the world’s prosperity, we must eliminate the cancer of corruption, and we must do it together.