The Experience Sharing Programme was launched by the European Commission in 2015 to support Member States, local NGOs and other stakeholders in addressing specific challenges identified in the EU Anti-Corruption Report.
Brussels, 4 October 2019
This 13th Experience-Sharing Workshop brought together representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission, GRECO, Europol and academia to discuss the theme of corruption as a threat to security.
Participants assisted to presentations from representatives of Europol, GRECO and academia, who across two panels tackled two specific aspects: the links between corruption and organised crime and the issue of corruption in law enforcement. Each panel lasted around one hour, and included a Question & Answer session to facilitate debate on the identified security issues.
For the first time, this Experience Sharing Workshop was organised together with an official meeting of EU National Contact Points of Corruption. All discussions were held under Chatham House rules.
Mr Lenno Reimand, Head of Strategic Analysis at Europol, opened the workshop with a presentation on corruption as a key enabler of serious and organised crime (PDF), focusing on the work which Europol undertakes in uncovering and exposing this link.
He explained that Europol is organised in thematic centres, and that a new centre for corruption-related issues will soon be established, to provide training, operational support and expertise to Member States in corruption cases . Furthermore, through so-called “analysis projects”, which focus on specific crime areas or specific criminal structures, specialists and analysts of Europol can support Member States before and during operations. While there is currently no specific analysis project dedicated solely to corruption investigations, analysis projects on organised crime more broadly include several corruption-related cases.
Finally, Mr Reimand described how Europol’s 2017 Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) report highlights the multiple ways through which corrupt practices are key enablers of criminal activities. The 2019 mid-term review follow-up to the SOCTA, also showed a considerable increase in top-level organised crime activities in the EU, with corruption as an integral part of these groups’ business model.
Prof. Michael Levi, professor of Criminology at Cardiff University, explored the link between corruption and organised crime, focusing in particular on the structure of organised crime groups and their possible state capture (PDF).
He described three dimensions to the possible impact of organised crime on society: economic costs and social impact upon victims; media imagery of risks as a driver of politics; and risks arising from those who commit crimes. He argued that through corruption some organised criminals can influence law enforcement and move into politics locally and/or nationally to reinforce their power and status and obtain protection.
Infiltration of both high level government institutions, as well as the political arena, can be part of the modus operandi of organised crime networks. The bribery of law enforcement agents, judges, politicians and the infiltration of these offices by organised crime can be broadly defined as “state capture”. Although the risk of state capture within EU Member States is modest, it is more prevalent in peripheral or candidate countries. Prof. Levi concluded by arguing that a proactive attitude at the European level is needed in order to mitigate these risks.
The afternoon panel was opened by Mr Gianluca Esposito, Executive Secretary of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe.
Mr Esposito provided a comprehensive overview of the lessons learned from the 5th round of GRECO evaluations (PDF), which focuses specifically on “preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies”.
Describing the main topics covered by the GRECO recommendations to date, he highlighted how the majority of recommendations touched on (the lack of an) anticorruption and integrity policy (27%); recruitment, career and conditions of service (24%) and prohibition of certain activities (18%) (i.e. to the “revolving door” phenomenon).
While the evaluation round is far from being concluded, Mr Esposito revealed that some trends were already visible across Council of Europe Member States in terms of the kind of recommendations that were being provided. The Council of Europe, he concluded, is currently working towards elaborating a series of horizontal recommendations valid for all Member States, as well as the creation of a risk assessment methodology which could be tailored to each national context.
Mr Raul Vahtra, Head of Internal Control Bureau, Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (EPBGB), concluded the second panel with a presentation on the internal control and corruption prevention mechanisms of the EPBGB (PDF).
After providing an initial overview of the structure and governance of the EPBGB, Mr Vahtra focused on the role of the Internal Control Bureau (ICB), describing its approach to misconduct. He explained that over the course of the past few years this approach had shifted from a reactive to a preventive approach, with the establishment of trainings, e-learning courses and other preventive measures. In the last three years, 90% of managers in the police forces have been trained by the ICB.
The Bureau also prepares threat assessments and risk assessments for each police unit. The former are reports assessing possible (corruption) threats by taking into account Estonia’s political context, changes in legislation, economic influence, etc;. The assessment includes impact, likelihood and (existing) mitigation measures. Depending on the level of risk identified, Mr. Vahtra concluded that four different courses of actions can be undertaken: investigation; preventive measures; control activities; and monitoring.
In bringing the workshop to an end, Irina Stefuriuc, Head of Sector from the Anti corrupotion team at DG HOME, reflected on the positive initial experience of combining a meeting of National Contact Points on Corruption and an Experience Sharing Workshop. She emphasised once more the key role which these workshops play in assisting EU Member States by providing a forum to exchange views on recent, ongoing and planned reforms in the field of anti-corruption, as well as on other relevant developments. Finally, she concluded by announcing that the next workshop would take place at the beginning of 2020, and encouraged participants to provide suggestions for possible topics.
Tallinn, 26 June 2019
The 12th Experience Sharing Workshop organised by the European Commission (Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs – DG HOME) brought together representatives from national ministries, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, as well as experts from the Commission, and addressed the issue of corruption in public procurement.
Public procurement plays an important role in national economies, with European Union (EU) public authorities spending each year one fifth of the EU Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on public works, goods and services. A number of elements make this sector particularly vulnerable to corrupt practices, including the volume of transactions, the close interaction between public officials and businesses, and the variety of stakeholders involved in this complex process. All stages of public procurement are vulnerable to corruption, from preparation of specifications to selection, award and execution of the contract. In 2014, the EU Anti-Corruption Report highlighted how public procurement is particularly prone to corruption across EU Member States, due to deficient control mechanisms and lack of risk management approaches.
Through presentations delivered by experts in the field of anti-corruption, this 12th Experience Sharing Workshop sought to provide specific, real life examples of successful experiences within various Member States with designing and implementing tools to assess corruption risks in public procurement. The workshop facilitated participants to share relevant national experiences and best practices.
UTE STIEGEL, Deputy Head of Organised Crime and Drugs Policy Unit, DG HOME, opened the workshop with a brief overview of the efforts undertaken at the EU level in support of the fight against corruption in public procurement. She mentioned the updates to public procurement legislation in 2014, which had allowed for a more flexible public procurement processes, improving, inter alia, access to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and better value for public money, and included a series of safeguards to prevent corruption and fraud; the inclusion of mandatory e-procurement since 2018, so as to provide more accessible data by setting up publicly accessible contracts; and the recent legislative developments at EU level that would be instrumental for the fight against corruption: the directive on the protection of whistleblowers, which provides high level protection for those who report breaches of EU law and the Directive on access and exchange of financial and other information in a timely manner.
Lastly, Ms Stiegel mentioned the ongoing negotiations for the new European Multi-Annual Financial Framework, and the proposal put forward by the Commission to allow the EU to suspend or restrict access to EU funding proportionally to the Rule of Law deficiencies in Member States. She concluded by stating that this would have an impact on the fight against corruption in the Member States.
Taking a risk based approach to tackle corruption in public procurement - The OECD’s experience
In the first presentation of the morning, Angelos Binis, Project Manager, Internal Control and Anti-Corruption at the OECD, provided participants with a comprehensive overview of the OECD’s approach to promoting and implementing risk management strategies in public procurement.
Mr Binis began by explaining why public procurement is a high-risk area for corruption, stressing that risks are present across all stages and evolve throughout the duration of a project, which makes the introduction of a risk management strategy fundamental. He then continued by providing concrete examples of instances where the OECD supports partner countries across the globe in managing risks of corruption and fraud in procurement, briefly explaining the practical steps for introducing risk management in public procurement across public organisations. In his overview, Mr Binis covered the different steps of the risk management process - from defining the scope, context and criteria to assessing the risks and lastly monitoring or treating them - stressing the importance of tailoring the approach.
Lastly, Mr Binis concluded his presentation by showing participants the risk matrix used by the OECD, and guiding them through the steps necessary to complete an accurate risk assessment.
Public procurement corruption risks: how can we assess and prevent them? A European response
Andrea Bordoni, Deputy Head of Fraud Prevention Unit, European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), concluded the first panel of the morning with a presentation on how corruption risks in public procurement are assessed and addressed at EU level.
Mr Bordoni highlighted how the overall complexity and fragmented nature of the public procurement framework is one of the causes of its vulnerability to corruption, and provided an overview of the various actors involved at both national and EU level, focusing in particular on the role played by OLAF in investigating corruption and fraud in this sector. He continued by listing the findings of various OLAF investigations related to the issues affecting public procurement within the EU Member States, such as unclear and complex legislative frameworks, a lack of capacity and professionalisation, inadequate levels of audit, and conflicts of interest, among others.
Mentioning the key role of ”red flags” as warning signs indicating the potential existence of fraud or corruption in a tender, Mr Bordoni explained OLAF’s role in monitoring and following up on the flagged issues. He concluded his presentations by stressing that, despite the complexity of public procurement process and frameworks, an integrated approach between different national and supranational entities is essential to effectively tackle corruption in this sector.
Detecting risky procurements with redflags.eu
The second panel began with a presentation by Sandor Lederer, Director at K-Monitor, Hungary, who explained how IT tool redflags.eu can help detect procurement processes where there is a risk of corruption.
Mr Lederer provided participants with an overview of the anti-corruption context in Hungary, where the project was developed, explaining the underlying issues that triggered the launch of a new system that would allow to pre-scan and flag automatically problematic procurements. The system is open source so that any organisation can use it and tailor it to its own national context, and uses data from the EU Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) database in order to have procurement data in a standardised and reliable format.
Mr Lederer showed participants how redflags.eu is used specifically, thoroughly explaining how the algorithm at the basis of the tool was developed and how indicators were identified, highlighting how “red” (serious) or “pink” (less serious) flags could point to potentially problematic behaviour such as explicit breaches of the law or malpractice or the formation of cartels, for example. He concluded his presentation by outlining possible future developments of the system, such as broadening its scope, both geographically and in terms of tenders examined, adjusting it so that it would reflect developments in national and EU legislations, integrating other databases, and using machine learning to refine the components of future procurement calls.
Preventing conflicts of interest in public procurement with the help of advanced IT tools
Silviu Popa, Secretary General of the Romanian National Integrity Agency (ANI), continued by providing an overview of PREVENT, the country’s national system to detect ex-ante conflict of interests in public procurement bids.
Following a brief description of the anti-corruption context in Romania where he singled out conflicts of interests as one of the recurring corruption-related issues in public procurement, Mr Popa described how, after the accession to the EU in 2017, the inefficiency of the system for addressing and solving conflict of interests in public procurement had prompted the development of an automated tool that would allow to check conflicts of interests ex-ante rather than ex-post.
Mr Popa explained how PREVENT works by requesting the contracting authority for a tender to complete an electronic form providing details on the procurement procedure and the bidders involved. Once this form is filled in, the PREVENT system cross-references the data provided to the ones available in the Trade or Civil Status Registers, and notifies automatically the ANI in suspicious cases. The Agency then requests the contracting authority to investigate and take the appropriate measures to remove the conflict of interest. As a last step, the National Agency for Public Procurement is in charge of ensuring that all necessary steps have been taken to address the situation.
Since its launch in 2017, Mr Popa concluded, the PREVENT system has shown positive results, highlighting the important role preventive measures such as ex-ante checks play in the fight against corruption.
Methods for Detecting and Measuring Corruption in Public Procurement in Greece: A Review of the new Law and Methodologies
The third panel was opened by Maria Stylianidou, Board Member of the Hellenic Single Public Procurement Authority in Greece, who provided participants with a broad overview of the most recent reforms of the Greek public procurement system, focusing in particular on those elements related to the fight against corruption.
She outlined how public procurement is conducted in Greece, emphasising that both the economic crisis in 2008 and the increasing complexity of the system have triggered extensive reforms with the aim to increase transparency, efficiency and compliance with the new European laws on the matter. In conclusion, she noted that these reforms included, among others, the establishment of an e-transparency platform and the complete adoption of e-procurement.
25+ Years of Integrity Pacts: new lessons emerging and the move to clean contracting
Bringing to the table the experience of civil society, Gabriella Nagy, Head of Public Funds programs, Transparency International Hungary, presented the Integrity Pacts (IPs), a legal tool developed in the 1990s by Transparency International. She explained that IPs are trilateral agreements bringing together the contracting authority for a public tender, the bidder and an independent civil society organisation that would monitor the process, ideally throughout all its phases, and issue periodical reports on its findings.
She described IPs as flexible agreements made under civil law, which allows them to be easily tailored to different national contexts. Following this general overview, Ms Nagy presented specific examples of IPs being successfully used worldwide, focusing in particular on a pilot project launched in 2015 by the European Commission with the aim of assessing whether IPs could be useful in monitoring not only the use of national public funds but also EU ones.
Concluding her presentation, Ms Nagy highlighted the lessons learned and the positive results achieved since IPs have first been implemented, mentioning for example lowered cost prices; broadened public competition; better detection of irregularities such as cartels and conflicts of interests; the provision of enhanced anti-corruption training to authorities; enhanced citizen monitoring; and the introduction of important legislative provisions such as whistleblower policies.
Preventing criminal infiltration in the Italian public procurement system: Project CAPACI and beyond
Roberto Dieghi, Lieutenant Colonel of the Guardia di Finanza and Head of the Central Observatory on Public Tenders within the Anti-mafia Investigation Department in Italy, opened the first panel of the afternoon with a presentation on the infiltration of Italian organised crime in public tenders and the role of the national institutions in countering it.
Following a description of the modus operandi of criminal organisations in Italy, which have been able to infiltrate the legal economy by reinvesting their illicit gains through public tenders, Mr Dieghi presented to participants the Project CAPACI, a landmark project launched in 2009 with the aim to “Create Automated Procedures Against Criminal Infiltration in Public Contracts”. He explained that the project effectively implemented a system for financial monitoring, with a database containing information on individual transactions and a warning mechanism that would flag unusual behaviour. Based on its success, Project CAPACI evolved more recently into the development of a new system that seeks to counter the infiltration of organised crime in the construction of major public works with intensive financial monitoring. He explained that this so-called MGO system is very restrictive, and requires companies engaged in public procurement bids to make payment exclusively through bank transfers and to use a single bank account dedicated to the specific tender.
Mr Dieghi concluded with a comprehensive overview of the legislative and institutional background supporting them, highlighting the roles of the different national authorities in tackling the fight against organised crime infiltration in public procurement.
Assessing the risks of infiltration of organised crime in the legitimate economy: tools and remedies in the procurement sector
After providing participants with a brief overview of the evolution of the organised crime landscape in Europe in recent years - with traditional organised crime increasingly moving into the legitimate economy - Mr Savona presented in detail MORE, an EU-funded project which sought to analyse, model and map the risk factors of Serious and Organised Crime (SOC) infiltration in legitimate European businesses. Explaining how the project took into account risk factors both from a macro – i.e. across countries, regions and business sectors – and from a micro perspective – i.e. at firm level, Mr Savona showed how the results provided by project MORE were instrumental in highlighting how infiltrated businesses across Europe are used by organised crime to implement their criminal strategies in a variety of ways.
In the second part of his presentation, Mr Savona described another EU-funded project, Datacros -currently in process of implementation -, which aims to develop a tool for understanding the risks of corruption linked to ownership structures. He emphasised that this is an important factor, which can contribute to the identification of corrupt practices, as those who attempt to infiltrate public procurement tend to conceal the ownership structure of a company. The system, he concluded, will help identify and flag anomalies such as ownership links among companies, geographical concentrations and complex corporate structure, among others.
Robust and reliable corruption risk indicators: insights from 19 million contracts from across the EU
Bence Tóth, Researcher at the Government Transparency Institute, Hungary, provided participants with an overview of opentender.eu, an online platform which allows users to search and analyse data on public procurement across the 28 EU Member States, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Serbia, Georgia and Armenia and which contains procurement records from 2009-2019 for each of these countries. Mr Tóth then provided a practical demonstration of how the system works. Illustrating the user-friendly format of the platform, he explained that data can be visualised in four different dashboards, which allow for a broad overview of the public procurement situation in EU Member States as regards a) the status of public procurement markets; b) buyers’ administrative capacity; c) the degree of transparency in public tenders; and d) of the integrity risks related to public procurement.
Mr Tóth concluded his presentation providing a few specific examples as to how open tender data can be used to gain useful insight on public procurement, for example showing the correlation between tight deadlines or negotiated procedures and single bidding.
Benchmarking public buyers
The last presentation of the day was delivered by Jiří Skuhrovec, Chairman of EconLab, Czech Republic. Mr Skuhrovec presented ZIndex to participants, a tool which aims to practically improve procurement practice.
Mr Skuhrovec provided a specific example as to how Zindex functions in the Czech Republic, explaining that the tool ranks compliance, inefficiency and corruption risks comparing the performance of municipalities across the country along these criteria. Drawing on three years of procurement data, Zindex rates buyers’ overall efficiency and risks to motivate them to improve their procurement practices. Once the ranking is complete, it is sent to the individual buyers with a clear explanation on how the rating was calculated. The rating is made public following this exchange.
The key aspect of this tool, Mr Skuhrovec argued, is that rather than flagging bad practices it rewards the good ones. This has shown to have a significantly positive impact, he concluded, explaining that due to these results the tool will be exported and launched in Slovakia later this year.
Concluding the workshop, CIRESICA FEYER, Policy Officer, Organised Crime and Drugs Policy Unit, DG HOME, briefly summarised the key takeaways of the presentations delivered throughout the day.
She emphasised how all presentations had highlighted that prevention is a key element in the fight against corruption in public procurement, and that an integrated effort from both government actors, economic operators and civil society is needed in order to address the issue due to its complex nature. She highlighted that corruption red flags can appear at any stage of the public procurement process, which is why monitoring the entire cycle is fundamental. She underlined that corruption risk assessment should not replace oversight, but rather complement it, together with other instruments such as internal control, audit, legal safeguards or whistleblowing
Lastly, she noted that the presentations delivered throughout the day showcased the existence of a variety of tools for assessing corruption risks in public procurement, and she encouraged participants to make use in their respective national contexts of what had been discussed during the day.
Berlin, 7 May 2019
The 11th Experience Sharing Workshop organised by the European Commission (Directorate General Migration and Home Affairs – DG HOME) brought together representatives from national ministries, senior prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Member States, international organisations, civil society and the private sector, as well as experts from the Commission, and addressed the issue of preventing corruption in State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
SOEs account for a very large share of employment and economic output in EU Member States, and are active in sectors which provide key public services such as energy, transport, and health. SOEs often operate with an extensive scope of public ownership and combine commercial with public policy objectives. Good governance, transparency and integrity are key principles for both positive economic performance of SOEs and allowing for an assessment of their effectiveness in serving the public interest.
The first EU Anti-Corruption Report in 2014 highlighted a number of issues in the management of SOEs. This included shortcomings in oversight; politicisation as an obstacle to merit-based appointment; insufficient safeguards to prevent conflict of interests; shortcomings in the transparency of allocation of funds and purchases, and party financing rules related issues.
Through presentations delivered by experts in the field of anti-corruption, the 11th Experience Sharing Workshop sought to discuss the corruption-related challenges faced by SOEs and possible ways to address them. The workshop facilitated participants to share relevant national experiences and best practices.
IRINA STEFURIUC, Head of Sector Fight against Corruption at DG HOME, opened the workshop with a brief overview of the efforts undertaken at the EU level in support of the fight against corruption in recent years. These include: updated anti-money laundering rules; reinforced rules for the protection of EU financial interest; the establishment of European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO); the European Semester initiative and the substantial financial support provided to Member States which seek to boost their anti-corruption measures. Moving to the main topic of the workshop, she then highlighted the key elements which make SOEs important actors in domestic and international markets and those that make them particularly vulnerable to corruption.
In the first session of the morning, Alison McMeekin, Policy Analyst, Corporate Governance and Corporate Finance Division at the OECD’s Directorate for Financial and Enterprise Affairs, provided participants with a comprehensive overview of the current role of SOEs in the market place, the corruption risks they face, and the measures which can be taken to improve their integrity.
Supported by data collected through recent OECD surveys, she showed how SOEs have been growing exponentially over the past five years, with a large geographical shift to emerging economies. She demonstrated how all levels of corporate hierarchy can be involved in corruption, how risks differ according to the objectives of the SOE and its sector - with some sectors being overall more vulnerable - and listed a series of potential obstacles to the integrity of a SOE. In comparing SOEs to private firms, Alison showed how SOEs seem to be less responsive in terms of actions taken in response to corruption risks, and advanced hypotheses as to why.
Lastly, she concluded by presenting the OECD’s most recent efforts in promoting transparency and accountability in SOEs, the 2019 “Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises”.
In the second session of the morning, Sorin Ioniţă, Expert in Public Administration Reform and Development, Expert Forum (Romania), presented the findings of statecapture.eu, a project aimed at finding objective indicators to measure clientelism in SOEs and its effects, and which used Bulgaria, Romania, Czech Republic and Italy as case studies.
In tracing the steps of the research process, he explained how sample SOEs had been selected and how indicators had been built, arguing for the importance of distinguishing between SOEs with commercial objectives and those providing services of general economic interest in order to better identify cases of clientelism. Addressing both the merits and the limits of the study, he pointed in particular to the challenge posed by the lack of available data and by having major differences in SOEs across sectors when trying to establish objective indicators.
After presenting as a specific example the results of a few sectorial in-depth analyses conducted for a case-study country, Mr Ioniţă concluded by highlighting the need for increased data transparency, stating that while bad governance and performance do not necessarily imply the existence of corruption, acting on governance and performance does limit it.
Sergejus Muravjovas, from the School of Transparency (Lithuania), ended the morning session with an interactive presentation on the issue of politicisation of SOEs, the ways to measure it, the risks and ways to address these.
Stressing the importance of including not only SOEs but also Municipally Owned Enterprises (MOEs) in analyses on corruption, he introduced participants to a study conducted in Lithuania which looked at the correlation between heading a SOE and/or a MOE and past participating in elections for political office. He argued that this participation could be a potential indicator of politicisation of the enterprise. Mr Muravjovas then listed a series of possible recommendations for increasing transparency in SOEs and MOEs, including ensuring that management boards do not feature politicians and public servants that deal directly with the issues related to the sector the company operates in, as well as publicly declaring meetings between board members and politicians or interest group representatives.
The recommendations presented by Mr Muravjovas allowed for an engaged discussion on the limitations of imposing transparency measures on SOEs operating in a (internationally) competitive business environment, as well as on the possibility of prioritising certain issues when designing and implementing anti-corruption prevention policies.
The last presentation of the day was delivered by Peter Wilkinson, the author of “State-Owned Enterprises: Beacons of Integrity? The Case for Implementing the 10 Anti-Corruption Principles for State-Owned Enterprises” (Transparency International).
After providing a brief overview of the role tools and codes play in setting standards, identifying and promulgating best practices and ensuring accountability, Mr Wilkinson presented the “Business Principles for Countering Bribery”, highlighting the strong impact this tool has had in influencing anti-bribery codes, national legislations and corporate behavior worldwide. Supported in his intervention by KATJA BECHTEL, former head of Business Integrity at Transparency International, he described the development of Transparency International’s “10 Anti-Corruption Principles For State-Owned Enterprises”. Highlighting the key strengths of the Principles, he explained that they represented a comprehensive and balanced approach that could help SOEs develop policies and procedures to counter corruption.
Mr Wilkinson concluded with the presentation of a self-assessment tool for SOEs on anti-corruption practices, which participants agreed could be a useful starting point for governments to engage in a discussion on the level of transparency and integrity of national SOEs.
Concluding the workshop, PHILIP GOUNEV, Director of PMG Analytics and former Deputy Minister of Interior of Bulgaria¸ briefly summarised the key points of the presentations delivered throughout the day, highlighting the complementarity of the themes addressed. Pointing to the complexity of the challenges faced by SOEs in countering corruption, he concluded that while there are no quick fixes available, it is fundamental to continue to try to address these challenges through targeted and comprehensive measures.
Paris, 25 June 2018
The 10th Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by the Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs (DG HOME) of the European Commission brought together senior prosecutors and law enforcement officials from Member States, law professionals, civil society, private sector as well as investigative journalists and representatives of international organisations and bodies involved in the fight against corruption (Europol, GRECO) and Commission experts.
The 2014 EU Anti-corruption report showed that many Member States place a high burden on law enforcement and prosecution bodies or on anti-corruption agencies which are perceived to be solely responsible for addressing corruption in the country. Corruption cannot be tackled without a comprehensive approach aiming to also effectively enhance prevention and control mechanisms throughout the public administration, at central and local levels. However prosecution remains the critical element in fighting corruption. In the absence of effective and successful prosecutions, impunity will prevail. It is essential that prosecution services are independent, have adequate capacity and resources and benefit from the necessary support.
Acts of corruption involving high-level public officials generally have significant impact on society by distorting policies or the functioning of the state at the expense of the public good. When it occurs, and particularly when it goes unsanctioned, high level corruption undermines public trust and erodes the principles of democratic governments. On the other hand, successful prosecutions of high-level corruption cases have a huge galvanizing effect in pushing back against corruption.
In opening the workshop, IRINA STEFURIUC, Head of Sector Fight against Corruption at DG HOME, presented EU initiatives supporting the fight against corruption in the Member States: analyses and recommendations in the context of the European Semester of economic governance, legislative initiatives relevant for the fight against corruption, and technical and financial support to Member States.
Access to information and the use and availability of evidence in high-level corruption cases
DAUMANTAS POCIUS, Head of the Second Department of the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania, opened the morning session with a presentation on Evidence Gathering in the Investigation of Corruption Cases. The presentation outlined the differences between proactive and reactive investigations, with particular emphasis on the methods available to an investigator in each scenario and the reliability of evidence gathered using different investigative techniques. Discussions centred around the statistical methodologies used for data driven surveillance in Lithuania, the use of special investigation techniques, the length of the pre-trial phase before disclosure of the investigation is required and the impact of local laws and regulations on the investigative methods that can be applied during the investigation.
In the second presentation of the session, FINNIAN MCKEON, Director, Enterprise Registry Solutions (Ireland), provided a presentation and demonstration on the European Beneficial Ownership and Control Structures (EBOCS) visualisation tool. EBOCS enables access to unified business registry data on business ownership structure for financial analysis and investigation purposes. In the demonstration, Finnian used the EBOCS tool to identify and analyse the transnational companies linked to a particular individual. Discussions focused on the functionality of the tool, including the ability to identify persons of interest or political status, the use of the visualisations as evidence in court and the expected expansion of the EBOCS tools’ scope.
Inter-agency and international cooperation
BRUNO FREITAS, Police Inspector, Portuguese Judiciary Police, opened the second session with a presentation of the links between corruption, tax fraud and money laundering. The presentation emphasised the close links between corruption, tax fraud and money laundering, as well as the increasing necessity for criminals to identify a seemingly legal circuit to channel the income paid through. The speaker discussed the distinction between ‘legal’ and illegal forms of corruption, as well as the ambiguous territory between them as legal forms of corruption, e.g. unethical behaviour that undermines codes of conduct, can lead to illegal corruption. Participants emphasised that a breach of an organisations’ or institutions’ Code of Conduct, though in certain cases legal, is often the first step towards corruption.
The second presentation of the session was given by ELIAS STEPHANOU, Director of Elias A. Stephanou LLC (Cyprus). The speaker presented a case study of prosecution for high-level corruption within the magistracy, covering issues such as pre-trial preparation and the case hearing as well as media engagement. The participants discussed the influence of circumstantial evidence in corruption cases and the details of the case.
ROMAIN de BEAUSSE, Liaison Officer, French Liaison Bureau, Europol, closed the session with a presentation on the support provided by Europol to corruption investigations. The presentation covered the support Europol provides to address the issues faced by and needs of anti-corruption investigations across its member states. The speaker emphasised the benefits of data sharing and analysis support for prosecutor, as well as the array of analytical tools Europol can deploy to support prosecutors. Given the transnational character of high-level corruption, Europol’s databases are well placed to balance law enforcements requirements for transnational data with national confidentiality and security concerns. Participants shared their experiences of working with Europol and discussed the frequency and depth of Europol’s support during anti-corruption cases.
Results and case studies in the prosecution of high-level corruption cases
The third session was opened by GIANLUCA ESPOSITO, Executive Secretary of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) of the Council of Europe, with a presentation on GRECO’s experience of corruption prevention in respect of prosecutors. The presentation outlined GRECO’s fourth evaluation round, focusing on the key recommendations on corruption prevention as regards prosecutors. A number of anonymised case studies were presented to illustrate good and bad practice. Following the presentation, the participants discussed the importance of supervision and enforcement of Codes of Conduct in public bodies as the first preventive defence against corruption.
Investigative journalist NILS HANSON, former Editor-in Chief of Mission Investigate (Sweden), presented on the methods used by investigative journalists to reveal corruption with reference to a high-level corruption case. The presentation tracked the evolution of Mission Investigate’s investigation via a network of offshore shell companies and the methods used to obtain information from sources. The presentation followed the trajectory of the investigation to illustrate the methods used by investigative journalists and closed with a discussion of conflicts and complementarities between investigative journalism and prosecution.
The fourth presentation of the session was by JOŽE ŠTRUS, Policy Officer, Directorate-General Justice and Consumers, European Commission, on the 2018 EU Justice Scoreboard. The EU Justice Scoreboard provides indicators on the performance of the justice system of each member state in terms of independence, quality and efficiency. In 2018, new data was included regarding the functioning of national prosecution services, more specifically as regards management powers over the prosecution services and guidance or instructions from the executive or parliament on prosecution.
IRINA ŞTEFURIUC, Head of Sector Fight Against Corruption, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, gave the final presentation of the session on the Commission’s collection of official data on corruption offences, covering 2011-2013. The presentation outlined the challenges faced in terms of data availability and comparability across Member States. A new data collection covering 2014-2016 is currently ongoing. Discussions focused on interpretation of data and cross-country comparability challenges.
Resilience to external pressure and other challenges
LAURA STEFAN, Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Coordinator, Expert Forum (Romania), opened the session with a presentation on ‘Resilience to Outside Pressure’. The presentation considered the benefits and vulnerabilities of judicial independence, the mechanisms for judicial accountability and the distinction between due and undue pressure on the judiciary. Due pressure is stemming from media interest in high-profile cases; public debates; political decisions in relation to justice reform; and, external evaluations. Undue pressure may be deriving from political statements that may undermine judicial independence; public pressure demanding specific solutions in highly publicised cases; interference in cases (e.g. telephone call to prosecutor or judge); tardive notifications sent to investigators; and, administrative chicanes to limit the inefficiency of the justice system. A central theme of the presentation was that due pressure may enhance the accountability of the judiciary, while undue pressure may undermine the justice system.
LAVLY PERLING, Prosecutor General of Estonia, gave the final presentation of the day on ‘The influence of the external environment and media pressure of the prosecution of high-level corruption cases’. After a brief summary of Estonian anti-corruption efforts, the speaker outlined the principles and strategy of the Estonian public prosecution office in its public relations. The priorities are to speak the truth without disclosing evidence, protect fair trials, and protect all parties involved with criminal proceedings. It is important for prosecution services to maintain some form of dialogue with both the public and the private sector about the impact of corruption in terms of economics, security and trust. Discussions centred on the different media approaches to media management employed by prosecutor’s offices in the EU and the experiences of participants in dealing with the media.
Olivier ONIDI, Deputy Director-General, Directorate-General Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission, concluded the session with closing remarks on the importance of prosecution in the fight against corruption. Echoing the views of participants, he emphasised that prosecuting high-level corruption requires the involvement and cooperation of many authorities, often under high pressure from the public and the media. The Commission, in cooperation with Members States, GRECO, Eurojust and Europol, is looking to strengthen the legislative support required for prosecutors to work effectively.
Brussels, 12 December 2017
The 9th Experience Sharing Workshop brought together representatives from national ministries, civil society, specialised corruption prevention, integrity and ethics authorities, and national prosecution services, from a total of 13 Member States, alongside experts from the European Commission, international organisations, the private sector and academia to discuss the economic impact of corruption.
FLORIANA SIPALA, Head of Unit “Organised Crime and Drugs Policy” (Directorate General for Migration and Home Affairs), opened the workshop with an update on the work in the fight against corruption and an overview of the challenges corruption poses to economic growth, such as it acting as a barrier to investment in some Member States, by creating uncertainty in the business environment, slowing processes and potentially imposing additional costs.
Session 1: Economic impact of corruption – How and where to look for it?
The morning session was opened by FRANCISCO CABALLERO SANZ, Head of the "European Semester and Member States Competitiveness" Unit (Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs), with a presentation on “The complementarities between structural and institutional reforms and their consequences on corruption”. The presentation looked at the ways to measure the effects of corruption on various aspects such as productivity and showed the combined ‘downstream effects’ of simultaneous reforms targeting service restrictions or service regulation in the economy, and the transparency and efficiency of public institutions. The results presented suggest that control of corruption has an impact on increasing productivity and that the combined effect of removing restrictions on services and reforming institutions would enhance competitiveness. Discussion among participants focused on the major challenges to such reforms and the importance of identifying intermediary results to ensure reform maintains political capital over the long-term.
STEFAN KARABOEV, Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy Economic Programme, continued the session with a presentation on “The economic costs of corruption related to efficiency and the role of EU financial support for improving governance”. The presentation was based on research completed at the Centre for the Study of Democracy. The presentation opened with an assessment of the Bulgarian public procurement market, which constitutes on average 9% of GDP, and a sectoral analysis of the Bulgarian construction industry, which has become increasingly reliant on public procurement in the wake of the financial crisis. He then moved to discuss the impact of EU funds on the public procurement market in Bulgaria. Research by the Centre for the Study of Democracy indicates that EU funded procurements are more competitive and less prone to corruption than the national funded ones. However, in evaluating the effect of EU conditionality through policy and financial assistance, the speaker argued that while Bulgaria continues to experience a lot of governance changes, anti-corruption progress is fragmented and slow due to inconsistent political commitment. The follow-up discussion centred around the use of civil society organisations for monitoring public procurement, the relationship between anti-corruption spending and levels of corruption, as well as the types of conditionality that are effective in reducing corruption.
Session 2: The impact of corruption on the business environment and business decisions
IRINA STEFURIUC, Anti-Corruption Team Leader at DG HOME, and NICHOLAS BECUWE, Senior Director at Kantar Public, started the session with a presentation of results from the 2017 Eurobarometer surveys on corruption, outlining the survey methodology and the key findings of the Eurobarometer business and public surveys. The roundtable discussions focused on survey methodology as well as the key policy challenges identified in the results from the Commission’s perspective.
The second presentation of the session was given by LARS BJÖRKLUND, Senior Partner at Granit Management and board member of Transparency International Sweden, on “Case studies in ethics and compliance implementation in business” to elucidate the organisational characteristics that are conducive to minimising the incidence of corruption. The speaker discussed cases from the olive oil, road construction, and telecommunications industries and concluded that the predictability of risk and reward for preventing corruption, as well as the quality of the leadership in the business are very significant factors. In the discussion, participants asked the speaker to identify ‘best practice’ within the business environment to reduce corruption and to outline the type of anti-corruption policy or initiative that would encourage foreign investment or business expansion into a market.
Session 3: Social impact of corruption - Inequality and fairness
NASTASSIA LESZCZYNSKA, a PhD candidate at the European Center for Advanced Research in Economics and Statistics (Université libre de Bruxelles) and a FNRS research fellow, presented the results of her research on “Fairness concerns in corrupt decisions”. Starting from the premise that corruption leads to unfairness, she made reference to recent research in the fields of behavioural and experimental economics, to show that poor citizens disproportionately bear the burdens of corruption. Building from this, the speaker argued that even people with corrupt behaviour display a preference for fairness and that fairness preferences could be used as a policy tool to deter corrupt behaviour.
Session 4: New ideas for integrity policy incentives
SERGEJUS MUROVJOVAS, Executive Director of Transparency International Lithuania, opened the final session of the day with a presentation on the importance of concrete, measurable and achievable anti-corruption programmes which trigger an incremental shift in organisational culture. Citing the development of the Lithuanian anti-corruption programme in 2002 and its subsequent implementation, the speaker identified the failings of large-scale anti-corruption programmes that are not absorbed into the culture of an organisation and do not have measurable results. By developing result-based programmes it is possible to track the effectiveness of policies and to identify unexpected benefits of policy initiatives. The discussion echoed the key points of the presentation on the use of insights from behavioural economics in policymaking and participants from the private sector related the presentation to a wider shift away from a ‘rulebook’ based compliance system towards one focused on organisational culture and behaviour in business.
LEVKE JESSEN-THIESEN, Junior Policy Analyst at the OECD Public Sector Integrity Division, presented on “The role of governance for the economic impact of corruption and the challenges in developing actionable measurements of corruption and integrity”. The speaker outlined the impact of corrupt activities on productivity, innovation and resource allocation before discussing the key factors in the OECD’s approach to public integrity policy: integrity systems (i.e. the structure of responsibilities allocated between participants), national or organisational culture, and accountability. At the core of the presentation was an emphasis on the monitoring and evaluation of interventions to determine their suitability and effectiveness. Participants discussed the importance of contextualising statistics and indicators in the wider reform setting to ensure an approach that incorporates the complementary elements of statistical analysis and stakeholder engagement.
Barcelona, 15 june 2017
The 8th Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by the European Commission (DG HOME), brought together representatives from national ministries, civil society, specialised corruption prevention, integrity and ethics authorities, national parliaments and national prosecution services, from a total of 21 Member States, alongside experts from the European Commission.
UTE STIEGEL (European Commission) opened the workshop by presenting the Commission’s efforts in the fight against corruption, the role of monitoring and evaluation and updated on the most recent legislative and policy initiatives that include anti-corruption at EU level.
LAURA STEFAN (Expertforum, RO) gave an overview of the most challenging aspects of setting up an efficient regime to prevent conflicts of interests at national level. The temptation to include overly restrictive rules, needs to be balanced by the capacity of the states to manage such rules as well as the importance of attracting high level professionals to jobs in the public sector. She pointed to the need to adapt rules across various categories of officials, as blanket restrictions are not readily enforceable. While conflicts of interest cannot be entirely ruled out, the capacity for early detection is paramount for their effective containment. Any set of legislative rules regulating conflicts of interest need to be accompanied by targeted awareness-raising and training, availability of advisory support for civil servants, including guidance for handling sensitive questions as well as a climate of safe reporting on ethical concerns. Creating the right environment for making rules enforceable also depends on setting up effective and deterrent sanctions.
Session 1: Managing conflicts of interests – what tools are available for public authorities?
MARISA MIRALLES, from the Anti-Fraud Office of Catalonia (Spain) presented the results of a study commissioned by the Parliament of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia aiming to identify weaknesses in the Catalan public sector and seek inspiration from existing systems in the EU. In the framework of the study, the office also conducted a survey for getting an overview of compliance with existing rules. While rules need to be designed taking into account the specificities of each professional group in the public sector (as regards responsibility, risks of conflicts of interest and severity of consequences), a common catalogue of tools for detecting and managing conflicts of interests before, during and upon leaving office. The role of transparency at all stages was highlighted, including as regards the publicity of sanctions as a deterring mechanism as well as a tool to repair institutional reputational damage. The presentation sparked a lively exchange mostly around setting up an efficient advisory role, where a combination of having ethics advisors at the level of each public institution as well as horizontal support by a central authority were highlighted. Of particular note were discussions on the independence of the integrity advisory role as well as on the challenges in creating a climate that fosters the confidence to ask for guidance. Most experts indicated an increased focus on issuing guidelines, including by publishing inquiries in an organised way, and continuous training for civil servants on ethical matters. Experts agreed that media plays an increasingly important role in putting integrity incidents in the spotlight and turning the public debate from “is it legal” to “is it ethical” questions. At the same time, experts pointed to the need to clarify the relationship and interactions between media owners and politicians.
Session 2: Prevention, detection and verifications of conflict of interest situations
JURE SKRBEC, presented the work of the Corruption Prevention Commission of Slovenia, having extensive competencies to prevention, detection and verifications of conflicts of interests. Of particular note were the system in place for early detection of situations of conflicts of interest, Erar (formerly known as Supervizor), a webtool for identifying all financial transactions between public authorities and private actors. This publicly available tool is accompanied by a system of red flags that is available for Commission inspectors, who are also enabled to cross-check information from asset declarations with information contained in other databases (e.g. business register, population register, real estate, etc.). The Commission also plays an advisory role, including as regards helping institutions to minimize risks of conflicts of interest in their individual integrity plans. During the discussion, workshop participants inquired about the availability of data on financial transactions to enable cross checks as well as data protection issues. The independence of the institutions responsible for verification, as well as their ability to carry out inquiries and impose sanctions and good cooperation with other bodies, such as tax authorities, were reiterated as crucial elements.
Session 3: Incompatibilities and post-employment situations
DAVID GINOCCHI, from the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATPV) presented the French approach to regulating revolving doors (fr pantouflage) between the public and the private sector. Unlike the Ethics Commission on Public Service, which is responsible for all French civil servants and political advisors, the HATPV has a narrower field of competence, covering about 1000 officials (government members, local elected officials, independent agencies members) and can conduct in depth verifications. HATPV uses an intelligence software to monitor the post-mandate activities of these categories of officials to ensure they are carried out in line with the reservations issued upon seeking authorisation.
SHERRY PERREAULT, from the Standards Commission (Ireland), presented the fairly recent Irish Lobbying Act (2015) which regulates the mandatory registration of lobbying activities, resulting in a quite high level of compliance on behalf of the private sector and contains post-employment provisions for the public sector. At the same time, restrictions with regards to the conduct of public officials are stipulated across a variety of Codes of Conduct. This leads to important differences across categories, with clear restrictions for civil servants, no rules for legislative office holders and relatively little guidance for political office holders.
The two presentations prompted reflection on striking the right balance between the need to regulate the mobility of labour between the public and the private sector and maintaining the attractiveness of the public sector and the right to work. It was noted that the general approach is to include obligations for civil servants, not always matched by obligations for private employers. At the same time, experts pointed that for private companies, publicity and transparency are efficient measures to dissuade the breach of rules – examples were given of companies that requested the opinion of central ethics advisory bodies to clarify obligations upon hiring former high-level officials. In many contexts, peer pressure for overt ethical behaviour and the ability of companies to keep competitors in check appears to elicit compliance with ethical rules.
Section 4: Sanctions and enforcement – typology and dissuasiveness
SILVIU POPA, from the National Integrity Agency (Romania), -focused on sanctions for incompatibilities and conflicts of interests. While disciplinary sanctions and the temporary ban on holding public office are more easily enforceable, cancelling public procurement processes when these are affected by conflicts of interest is more challenging. This prompted the Agency to invest more heavily in preventive measures: a system of red flags in public procurement was set in place to avoid the signature of contracts in absence of credible mitigation measures taken by the contracting authorities if a conflict of interest is detected. An unstable legal framework, prescription period that are too short and legislative loopholes were identified as major threats to any integrity system. On the other hand, the conditions that appear to lead to a better dissuasive regime of sanctions were, in the Romanian case, a solid and diverse track record of solved cases, consistent jurisprudence, training and permanent guidance.
The discussion that followed was focused on the challenge of maintaining a wide array of administrative and financial sanctions. Experts were also interested in learning about Romanian legislation that includes a criminal component of conflicts of interests.
Brussels, 31 March 2017
The Seventh Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by the European Commission (DG HOME), brought together representatives from national ministries, anti-corruption bodies, national statistical institutes, the judiciary, and academia from 22 Member States, alongside experts from the European Commission, to discuss using indicators to inform policy and measure progress on anti-corruption.
Participants were given food for thought alongside the informal dinner on the preceding evening, with a presentation by Mari-Liis SÖÖT, Ministry of Justice, Estonia, on the demand for indicators from the policy side. This covered both policymaking and evaluating policies, as well as the role of performance indicators in the policy environment. This sparked a good discussion of both theoretical and practical aspects of developing and using indicators in a policy environment.
The topic of anti-corruption indicators covers a broad range of quantitative sources, including: experience and perception surveys; expert-based indices; "red-flag" indicators of corruption risks; official administrative statistics on corruption cases. The focus can range from the international to the regional level, and may vary considerably depending on the institutions or sectors under consideration. For many years, policymakers have recognised the benefits of good indicators, and there have been a number of calls at political level to improve the quality of indicators available.
Luigi SORECA, Director for Security, DG HOME, opened the workshop by talking about the Commission's efforts in the fight against corruption, the role of monitoring and evaluation, the wide range of policy initiatives which involve anti-corruption elements, and the importance of data and quantitative indicators to inform all of these.
Margarita DOBRYNINA, from the Special Investigation Service of the Republic of Lithuania, presented the Lithuanian Map of Corruption, first developed in 2001 by Transparency International as a cognitive crime mapping tool, but now taken on by the Special Investigation Service and issued every three years. It consists of two-hour interviews of citizens, business leaders and civil servants about their perceptions and experience of anti-corruption. Of particular note were the differences in perceptions between the three groups, including the sources from which they obtained information, and their perceptions about past and future changes in the level of corruption.
The questions which followed included regional variation, questions on nepotism, response rates, and the fact that definitions of bribery or corruption depend on the respondent's own views.
Maria Giuseppina MURATORE , from the Italian National Institute for Statistics (Istat), presented the Italian survey module on experience of corruption, looking at the development phase for the survey, the background, technical considerations and definitional issues, and how to treat survey questions about corruption, among a range of other topics. The survey has been carried out and the results will be published in a few months' time.
The discussions which followed incorporated the importance of country or cultural context, and the impact this can have on the questions; assessing people's views about the importance of the survey; representativeness of regional data; the impact of demographic information, or the dynamic between the giver and receiver, on experiences of corruption.
Corruption indicators will be one of the focal topics under the Italian G7 Presidency, and Italy will be organising a workshop in Rome in the autumn on this very subject.
Lewis DIJKSTRA, European Commission (DG REGIO), opened the second session with a discussion of the process to develop indicators to underpin cohesion policy. In the presentation and a lively discussion which followed, participants touched on the suitability of different types of indicators either for monitoring or to negotiate; the importance of using indicators that fall under the control of a certain organisation; how to deal with situations where there is no improvement against the indicators being measured; and future perspectives at the regional level.
Nicholas CHARRON , from the University of Gothenburg, presented some results of the project on measuring governance at the sub-national level in the EU, under the Quality of Governance indicators. Of particular note was the observation that in-country variations can be much larger than variations between national averages. In some countries, the regional variations are particularly large, and even negate the usefulness of a single national measure.
Discussions looked at the correlations and lack of correlations raised in the presentation, the difficulty of controlling for media influence in survey results; possibilities around looking at results on the either side of national borders; and implications of political trust at different levels of government for policy choices..
Mihaly FAZEKAS , University of Cambridge, presented a wide set of results from work on risk indicators in public procurement. Points of particular note included: the importance of triangulating different risk indicators to get a better overall picture; correlations between winners of procurement contract and changes in government; costs of corruption risk to overall government spending; the importance of high quality, published data in an easily-readable format.
The discussions which followed also touched on how to accommodate for the fact that there is data missing in public databases on public procurement; what conclusions can be drawn if the risk indicators show no red flags; shortcomings of using risk indicators to assess individual cases; and the effectiveness of debarment, as well as its impact on competition.
Richard CAINE , European Commission (DG HOME), presented the Commission's collection of administrative statistics from the Member States on the treatment of corruption cases in the criminal justice system. The particular focus was on the availability of data – by offence and by stage of the process – with a range of questions posed about what conclusions could be drawn from the data which is available.
This was followed by a presentation by Mike LEVI, University of Cardiff, on the usefulness of official statistics for counting, measuring and conceptualising corruption. Interesting themes included: how to contextualise the data – activity per population, per GDP, per contract, per value, etc.; what are the indicators for; and the importance of looking at the time lag – when events happened, not when they were discovered. One conclusion was that we need to use indicators to pose and discuss questions which are relevant for policy.
Vienna, 16 June 2016
The Sixth Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by DG Migration & Home Affairs (HOME), brought together representatives national ministries, parliaments, judiciary, think-thanks, anti-corruption bodies, academia and non-governmental organisations from 17 Member States, alongside experts from the European Commission, the European Parliament, the UNODC, and the Council of Europe, to discuss anti-corruption initiatives and best practices on political immunities.
The subject of political immunities goes well beyond the sphere of corruption. Nevertheless, the issue was pointed out in a number of country chapters of the first EU Anti-Corruption Report. Immunities play a significant role whenever the abuse of power for private gain is at stake.
The workshop was structured around three modules: an introduction and overview of political immunities in Europe; some case studies from the Member States; and initiatives at the EU and international level.
The morning session was opened by Mr. James HAMILTON, former Member of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, with a presentation on “Parliamentary Immunities and Corruption”. He provided an overview of Parliamentary immunities in Europe as covered by the Venice Commission report of March 2014. Mr. HAMILTON first introduced the concepts of “non-liability” and “inviolability”, and explained the Venice Commission's analysis of the matter. He dealt with the criteria and guidelines that the Venice Commission feels are suitable for assessing the two kinds of immunity.
The presentation led to a long discussion among the participants. Several elements were addressed, such as the follow up to the Venice Commission’s report, and the differences in terminology faced in the assessment of immunities in Europe.
The second session of the morning started with a presentation of “an overview of parliamentary immunity in the UK, France and the Netherlands” by Prof. Sascha HARDT, Assistant Professor of Comparative Constitutional Law at Maastricht University. For each of the three countries, Prof. HARDT provided an overview of the rationale behind each system and how they have developed historically. He then elaborated on the scope of immunities in each system and the country-specific challenges.
The presentation paved the way for an interesting discussion on recent developments in some Member States.
The second part of the session was led by Prof. Ioannis ANDROULAKIS, Lecturer in Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure at the University of Athens, with a presentation on “The problem of political immunities in Greece”. Prof. ANDROULAKIS briefly set out the Greek institutional context, then presented an analysis of the Greek immunity framework. He concluded his presentation with examples from recent cases in Greece.
Mrs. Heili SEPP, Head of the Law Enforcement Affairs Department at the Estonian Office of the Chancellor of Justice, closed the second session with a presentation entitled “Overview on the parliamentary immunity regulation problems in Estonia 2011-2016”. After introducing the legal background of immunities in Estonia, she explained the various facts which had triggered the recent reforms. She also provided details of the new law that entered into force in 2015, including the main points of the regulation.
The discussion that followed focused on the specific provisions of the new law, their compatibility and potential pitfalls.
Mr. Constantine PALICARSKY, Crime Prevention & Criminal Justice officer, Corruption & Economic Crime Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC), opened the afternoon session with a presentation on “The United Nations Convention Against Corruption: Immunities and Jurisdictional Privileges”. Mr. PALICARSKY first explained the treatment of immunities in the context of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). He then elaborated on the details of the different chapters of the convention. He concluded his presentation with an overview of some relevant UNODC tools and projects.
Mr. Christophe SPECKBACHER, Head of Section, Secretariat of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO), Council of Europe, continued the session with a presentation on “Lessons learnt from mutual evaluations”. Mr. SPECKBACHER addressed the main findings of GRECO evaluations in relation to powers enabling immunities to be lifted. He also gave some insight into how the evaluation process works in practice and how the assessments are made.
The presentation paved the way for a discussion of individual issues, including the offering of bribes for votes. Participants also asked questions regarding white-collar crime.
Mr. Robert BRAY, Head of Unit, Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament, closed the session with a presentation on “Immunities of Members of the European Parliament”. After providing some background on the relevant legal provisions, Mr. BRAY elaborated on the interpretation of the Court of Justice on the matter. Illustrated by some practical examples, he described and commented on the procedure to lift immunities as well as its guiding principles.
The discussion following the presentation addressed the proportion of immunities actually lifted by the European Parliament, and how the Court of Justice has interpreted the criteria for lifting immunity.
Prague, 21 April 2016
The Fifth Experience Sharing Workshop, organised by DG Migration & Home Affairs, brought together representatives from ministries, law firms, judiciary, think-thanks, anti-corruption bodies, academia and non-governmental organisations from 17 Member States to discuss anti-corruption initiatives and best practices in the private sector. The workshop was composed of five sessions focusing on specific issues concerning the fight against corruption in the private sector.
Corruption in the private sector is one of the challenges identified in Europe. The integrity of the companies plays an important role for the success of anti-corruption policies. The dedicated sessions in the workshop tackled the issue from different angles and explored the experience and best practices from different Member States.
The morning session was opened by Prof. Michael KUBICIEL, Professor for criminal law and international law and director of the institute for criminal law and criminal procedure at the University of Cologne, with a presentation on “The implementation and application of the Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA in Germany”. After stressing the importance of the Council Framework Decision in the European context, Prof. Kubiciel elaborated on the conceptual model regarding the approach towards corruption in the private sector. He then discussed the implementation of the model in Germany together with the strengths and weaknesses of the new German law. He noted potential loopholes in the current legislation, as well as previous ones related to the healthcare sector, which was covered by neither public, nor private sector bribery offences. The relevant criminal provisions did not cover all breaches of duties but criminalised giving a preference in an unfair manner, thus unfair competition. He closed his presentation with examples from the ongoing discussion in Germany on the practical outcome and challenges resulting from the implementation of the Framework Decision.
Prof. Athanasia DIONYSSOPOULOU, Lecturer in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law in University of Athens, Scientific Associate in Hellenic Parliament and Attorney -at- Law, continued the session with the presentation on the “Incompatibilities between national criminal sanctions against bribery in the private sector and EU's competition law”. First, she presented the similarity between the EU competition regulation and national anti-corruption law. Both corruption and anti-competitive practices result to too much market power and nurture a corporate culture which undermines integrity standards; they also use similar strategies for disguising activities. She then clarified their content based on the relevant legal instruments. She continued her presentation by elaborating on the way the two frameworks interacted with each other as well as on the limits of such interaction. Prof. DIONYSSOPOULOU closed her presentation by some suggestion for common enforcement measures, such a coordinated enforcement approach consisting of closer cooperation between national competition authorities and Public Prosecution, a single black list for both cases, and linking leniency model for competition offences also with giving information about bribery in private sector (or corruption offences in general).
The discussion following both presentations focused on the anti-corruption policies in relation to some specific sectors. Some practical issues regarding the concrete application of the laws were also addressed. The use of leniency to fight corruption in the private sector was also brought up in the Q&A session.
The second session started with a presentation of the “Anti-corruption programme for state owned companies of Croatia” by Magistrate Davor DUBRAVICA, Chairperson of the Regional Anti-corruption Initiative of Southeast Europe. He first introduced the structure in Croatia regarding the state owned companies. He then elaborated on the rationale behind the dedicated anti-corruption programme including the actions taken to monitor these companies. He also explained the weaknesses and strength of the programme and the results achieved. In order to improve the previously insufficient monitoring of state-owned companies, they designed a detailed survey with clear questions for ACP implementation and for identification of risks and red flags which could be used as a good practice elsewhere.
The presentation paved the way to a discussion focusing on the success elements and the possibilities for follow up actions and a new programme.
This session focused on the perception and understanding of the private sector concerning the issue of corruption. Ms Özge ISKIT, Manager at PwC, presented the 2016 results of PwC’s “Global Economic Crime Survey”. It provided a general overview of the current problem and challenges identified by the companies themselves. After giving some background on this survey initiative she explained the structure, data collection process and the respondents. The survey results showed the current trends in corruption and economic crime (including cybercrime) in the private sector pointing to sharply increasing perception of economic crime in Western Europe. Finally, she shed some light on the main lessons learned and the way forward to tackle the problem.
The discussion following the presentation started with questions on the scope of the survey, geographical coverage and continued with the definitions used for the different types of economic crime.
Prof. Lars JOHANNSEN, Associate Professor at the department of Political Science of Aarhus University, opened the session with a presentation of the “Estonian-Danish business corruption study of 2015/2016”. Prof. Johannsen started his presentation by discussing the costs and risks of private corruption. He then illustrated the nature of the phenomenon of private-to-private corruption by a case. He presented the similar results in both countries and explained the scale of corruption and its patterns. Next, he elaborated on the dynamic of the issues based on the most frequent excuses provided by the respondents. He closed his speech with a focus on the answer to give those practices and stressing the need for tailor made actions.
The discussion addressed the impact of the nature of bribes on corrupt practices. Prof. JOHANNSEN also elaborated on his relevant work in the field. The issue of the specific dynamic of corruption triggered by organised crime was also discussed and acknowledged as an area deserving attention.
Mrs. Ieva Lapeikienė, Coordinator of ‘Clear Wave‘, closed the session with the presentation on “The clear wave initiative, labelling transparency”. She started with the introduction of the contextual elements of the Clear Wave initiative and how it promotes business integrity and transparency through its label. After presenting the history and some key facts on the initiative, she elaborated on their current activities and on their partners and supporters. She then emphasised the key success drivers of the initiative. The added value of ‘Clear Wave’ compared to other existing labels includes tailor-made solutions and local initiatives and support. She also mentioned some of the challenges related to the exportation of the initiative abroad, and the implication of partners. The discussion following the presentation focused on the risks of welcoming new partners and supporters and the way to address them. The organisation is happy to mentor similar initiatives in other countries.
The last session was held by Mr. Martin Fadrný, Lawyer and Head of the Programme of “Responsible State” of Frank Bold Society, with a presentation on the “Governance of Czech state owned and municipality owned enterprises - Czech reality and OECD recommendations”. He noted that 2016 Czech SOEs and MOEs were obliged to publish their contracts in the Registry of Contracts from 2016. After providing an overview on the state owned companies in the Czech context he elaborated on key corruption risks areas. He continued his presentation with the Czech governance structure with respect to the OECD recommendations including some concrete examples.
The discussion among the participants focused on the definition of state owned enterprise, the content of the new policies as well as on the actors involved in the process.
Athens, 25 February 2016
The fourth Experience Sharing Workshop brought together representatives from ministries, expert centres, think-thanks, anti-corruption and public procurement bodies, academia and non-governmental organisations from 17 Member States to discuss anti-corruption initiatives and best practices in public procurement. Organised by DG Migration & Home Affairs (HOME), the workshop also included representatives of DG Regional & Urban Policy (REGIO), DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs (GROW) and the European Court of Auditors. The discussions were held under the Chatham House Rule to encourage open sharing of information.
The first EU Anti-Corruption Report pointed out public procurement, especially at the local level, as an area of great concern. Public procurement in general was identified as an area particularly prone to corruption. Corruption risks are higher at the local and regional levels where authorities benefit from wide discretionary powers, insufficiently matched by checks and balances. The workshop was structured around five different sessions.
The morning session was opened by Mr. Agris PEEDU, Deputy Secretary General of Public Governance Policy at the Ministry of Finance of Estonia, with a presentation on “Corruption in public procurement and the progress made in Estonia in the recent years”. After a reflection on the sources of corruption for local government, he presented the conclusion of a survey on corruption conducted in Estonia in 2010. He then focused on the recently achieved and upcoming activities in Estonia in order to prevent corruption, mainly by increasing transparency on financial transactions and various phases of the public procurement procedure, centralisation of public information about procurement and local government reform. The presentation paved the way to participants sharing the different issues and success stories from their home Member States. One recurrent question was on the ways to make publicity requirements work in practice for all aspects of procurement: in some countries, contracts are not valid unless published, in others contracts must be published but no publication entails no consequence on their validity; beyond contracts, amendments and invoices may also be subject to publication requirements; other types of data, such as the name of the bidders, is not published but may be available upon request while some data falls under the category of "business secrets" and is not disclosed. Some countries have in place systems to check for conflict of interests. Participants noted that one of the main consequences of transparency rules is that media and civil society are now more active on the topic.
Mr. Bogdan STEFAN, Legal Officer at the DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship & SMEs (GROW), led the second part of the session with a presentation on “Anti-corruption measures under the new Public Procurement Directives”. He first stressed the importance of tackling corruption in the internal market and highlighted that public procurement is an area prone to corrupt practices. He then elaborated on how public procurement rules and especially the new directives prevent corruption by enhancing transparency. He finally focused on the new public procurement directives, their increased focused to tackle corruption through monitoring obligations and systems, effective review procedures, monetary follow-up of corrupt practices and sanctioning. He also mentioned some good practices from Member States before suggesting additional ways to address corruption in public procurement.
The discussion following the presentation focused on the sharing of initiatives and approaches to decrease corruption and the influence of organised crime in Europe. National officials and representatives of the Commission notably discussed the use of "Integrity Pacts", the extent of responsibility of public officers in fighting corruption, the administrative approach to organised crime as well as alternative litigation and control mechanisms.
The second session of the morning started with a presentation of the “Lithuanian innovative approach on public procurement monitoring” by Ms. Živilė CIBUTAVIČIENĖ, Head of Defence & Security Procurement Division at the public procurement office of Lithuania. After introducing the role of the public procurement office of Lithuania, she presented the way the office is handling investigations based on risk analysis: in 2015 for example, only 3.5% of all procurement procedures were investigated, but these checks resulted in detecting irregularities in 87% of the cases. The presentation focused on the efforts made to make transparency and publicity requirements a more effective tool in the prevention of corruption, pointing out that simply making public a very large amount of procurement data is insufficient for this purpose. A portal was set up in order to ease and encourage the use of data by the public and the media, leading to some success stories in detecting high-profile corruption cases.
During the discussions, the audience followed up on the case of the Lithuanian portal and looked for more details in the functioning of this good practice. Further discussion focused on the selection method (eg. Risk based sampling) for investigation of the public procurement procedure and on how to overcome the barriers for appeals faced by the bidders when dissatisfied with a decision of the public authorities.
The second part was held by Mr. Henk WIJNEN, Senior Knowledge Manager at the Professional & Innovative Tendering, Network for Government Contracting Authorities (PIANOo) of the Netherlands, with a presentation on the “The Dutch Case”. First, he introduced the main causes of corruption in public procurement (i.e. insufficient professionalization, lack of transparency at pre-bidding and post-bidding phases, problems with accountability and control mechanisms) as well as the risks of corruption at every stage of the procedure. He then presented preventive measures against corruption of contracting authorities, public procurement officials and economic operators such as the inclusion of integrity in the procurement policies, the use of integrity red flags, the establishment of an advice centre for whistleblowers and of a reporting point for integrity violations as well as the use of exclusion criteria toward bidders. He also drew the attention on the strength and weaknesses of code of conduct and introduced a separation of interest mechanisms before elaborating on practical corruption cases.
During the discussion that followed, the observation that we may be facing two very different groups of country contexts was raised: one group in which corruption is an exception and where preventive measures such as codes of conduct may be the adequate response, another group in which corruption seems to be the rule and hence prevention strategies need to be much more complex. Nevertheless, perception about corruption in public procurement seems to be rather high also in the context characterised by rather high integrity and few corruption scandals, which is something authorities need to look further into.
Mr. Munir PODUMLJAK, Executive Director at Partnership for Social Development (PSD), opened the last session of the morning with a presentation on “The Public Procurement of Construction Works: The Case of Croatia”. After giving some insights on the Croatian context, he stressed the importance of the share of state-owned enterprises in the national public procurement. He then elaborated on the structure of public procurement system in Croatia. He stressed the importance of its all-encompassing digitalisation for transparency and in identifying priorities for policy-makers. He further raised the issue of vertical accountability regarding state-owned enterprises and the need for the society to tackle various abuses. He introduced the tool integrityobservers.eu providing users with primary source data on procurement that enables cross checks with other data (e.g. asset declarations, company ownership) and can generate corruption risk scores. Concurring with previous speakers, the presentation highlighted the importance of data management rather than simple data availability to detect corruption and irregularities.
The discussion following the presentation started on the signs of improvement of integrity in the public sector. The audience also widely discussed the importance of data management over general transparency, and the data covered by the Croatian tool.
Mr. Sorin IONITA, President of Expert Forum (EFOR), a Bucharest-based think-tank, gave the last presentation of the morning on the “360° approach when dealing with SOEs”. He presented the current Expert Forum project on clientelism to evaluate sample of SOEs in 4 EU countries. The project identifies three main avenues for corruption in state-owned enterprises: buying of goods and products above market prices (fraudulent procurement), selling of goods and services to preferential clients below market prices and nepotism or politicisation in decisions regarding management appointments in SoEs. The presentation brought perspective on the need to develop proper indicators to measure clientelism.
Dr. Anita KONCSIK, Senior Researcher at K-Monitor, opened the afternoon session with a presentation of the “Hungarian case” regarding conflict of interest and links between business and politics at the local level. She first elaborated on recent legislation on public procurement regarding conflict of interests, pointing that conflict of interest is often not direct (i.e. direct links between decision-makers in the contracting authority and winning bidder) but can take various shapes not covered by the legislation (i.e. winning bidder is closely associated with a company involved in drafting technical specifications prior to tender publication). At the local level, enablers of corruption in public procurement may also be a lack of transparency in the financing of electoral campaigns, lack of transparency of budget allocations and a non-transparent system of asset declarations for local elected officials.. A practical IT tool that analyses contract notices and generates corruption risks based on 60 identified indicators was presented: the tool, redflags.eu, checks compliance with the legal rules but also warns about other risk factors, such as cartels.
Questions triggered by the presentation focused on the new act on public procurement, the line between preliminary consultation and ties with companies leading to their exclusion, current investigation and the effectiveness of prosecution.
A short roundtable on the issue of conflict of interests followed. A point was made that current legislation focusing on the procurement procedure as such does not cover budget allocations from the central to the local governments, which may be a source of clientelism and corruption and may give room for opaque lobbying by the private sector. The need to allocate resources to counter state capture was also mentioned. The lack of training programs and the inefficiency of ethical codes despite good legislation was pointed out as being problematic. A number of ideas to tackle those issues were further suggested, gravitating around the need to extend and improve transparency requirements and move towards better data management.
For the latest session of the day, Dr. Matej KOVAČIČ, from the Jožef Stefan Institute, presented “A good practice from Slovenia: Supervizor”, an online application which enables simple browsing through the financial transactions and their graphical presentation. He first demonstrated its easy use and the extent of the application’s possibilities before providing with examples of possible anti-corruption analysis of open data.
The last presentation of the day was held by the Dr. Elaine BYRNE and focused on “The Irish case”. After briefing the audience on the Irish context of public procurement, she provided with an outline of Irish governance practices within procurement. She elaborated first on examples of non-compliance with procurement rules and on the conflict between freedom of information legislation and commercial sensitivity. She then focused on a leniency programme developed by the Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to “bid-rigging" concerns. Finally, the presentation reflected on the means of redress, illustrating via a case-study how lack of access to commercially sensitive information constitutes obstacles to investigations.
The questions raised after the presentation focused on public procurement policies in Ireland regarding SMEs as well as the exception under the freedom of information act.
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Rome, 12 November 2015
The third experience sharing workshop brought together representatives from ministries of health and justice, anti-corruption and prosecution bodies, academia and civil society from 19 EU Member States to discuss anti-corruption initiatives in the healthcare sector.
Corruption in healthcare has a particularly salient impact on human lives. The sector was highlighted by the first EU Anti-Corruption Report as a risk area affecting all Member States in different ways, from informal payments by patients, to approval of medicines for reimbursement, to procurement at hospitals, to contacts between doctors and pharmaceutical companies. The EU market has implications for efforts to reform national health systems, as underpaid medical professionals and re-exported medicines cross borders freely, while national governments negotiate prices individually.
Valts Kalnins provided an overview of corruption risks in the healthcare sector and then focused on specific obstacles in Latvia. He also provided examples of recent campaigns seeking to raise awareness among patients and physicians. The presentation inspired a discussion among participants who shared experiences from their own countries. DG HOME noted that Member States can benefit from the European Structural and Investment Funds for integrity reforms.
Davide Del Monte stressed the scale of the impact of corruption in Italy, elaborating on the patterns and drivers of corruption in the healthcare sector, and in each phase of procuring medical equipment. Recommendations focused on open data, freedom of information, and training for anti-corruption officers. The subsequent discussion revealed that for many Member States, the solution resides in better implementing the existing laws.
Sergejus Muravjovas focused on lobbying transparency as illustrated by the Lithuanian case, with recommendations for both legislation and self-regulation by the industry, as a lobbyist register alone is insufficient. Ieva Balene shared insight about the decision making process for reimbursement of pharmaceuticals, and evolving Lithuanian legislation on the matter. The need for frequent rotation of decision-makers ought to be balanced against the need to develop specific expertise. The ensuing discussion focused on transparency of lobbying and pricing of pharmaceuticals, and regular reassessment of reimbursed medicines.
Vlad Mixich presented the corruption risks linked to legalising private practice in public hospitals which is currently debated in Romania, highlighting the absence of adequate incentives to maintain the quality and quantity of staff in the public scheme and the reluctance to introduce complementary private insurance schemes and higher contributions from patients. Ceren Zeytinoglu analysed the approach taken in Turkey, which was to ban doctors from working for both private and public institutions, triggering new challenges for the integrity, affordability and quality of service. Participants shared examples from their own countries, pointing to complex dilemmas in the interaction between public and private provision of healthcare.
The Hague, 2 July 2015
The second experience sharing workshop brought together representatives from 18 EU Member States, the Commission and other anti-corruption experts to discuss whistleblowing as a means to prevent and detect corruption. Reflecting the cross-cutting nature of the topic and the diversity of national arrangements, participants included prosecutors, police officers, officials from anti-corruption agencies and ministries of interior, justice, finance and labour.
To encourage the disclosure of information in the public interest, whistleblowers require not only legal protection from reprisal, but also advice and support. The workshop was organised in two sections:
The first session opened with a presentation by Paul Stephenson (from the Commission's expert group on corruption) on law making and outcomes across European countries, with reference to the 2014 EU Anti-Corruption Report and Council of Europe recommendation.
A roundtable discussion gave an opportunity for Member State representatives to share information on how whistleblowing cases are handled in their country. Participants from Member States in the early stages of developing a legal framework for whistleblower protection were interested to hear the experiences of countries with a longer track record. A law is more likely to prove effective if its adoption is the outcome a broad public debate and awareness-raising effort.
Questions discussed included the need to address negative connotations in many countries of the term "whistleblower". The 1998 UK Public Information Disclosure Act does not mention the term. The "public interest" requirement is another potentially problematic concept, which does not appear in the 2014 Irish law. Similarly, a "good faith" requirement could be misconstrued to be about the whistleblower's motives, which are largely irrelevant.
The second session was structured as a panel discussion with Willeke Slingerland (Saxion University), Andrew Parsons (Public Concern at Work, UK), and Onno van Veldhuizen (Adviespunt Klokkenluiders, The Netherlands). Susheela Math (Transparency International Ireland) and Michel van Hulten (Saxion University) raised follow-up questions. The level of support for whistleblowers varies across Member States, with some countries providing helplines and advisory organisations funded by the government. Analysis of case studies from the UK and The Netherlands triggered a dynamic and constructive discussion about the cost of advisory and support services and the impact of public or private funding on their independence. Another question concerned the distinction between aiming to support the whistleblower and aiming to establish the truth, and whether the same organisation can combine both functions.
The discussion also focused on the pros and cons of internal versus external channels, and anonymous versus confidential whistleblowing. Various opinions were expressed on the idea of leniency for accomplices in a corrupt transaction who later report it, and whether such persons qualify as whistleblowers.
Budapest, 29 April 2015
Representatives from 20 EU Member States, the Commission and other anti-corruption experts discussed asset declaration systems as an effective means to prevent corruption. The discussions were held under the Chatham House rule to encourage open sharing of information.
Asset declarations are an important element of successful anti-corruption programmes, contributing to a culture of integrity in public service. An effective asset declaration system helps prevent conflicts of interest, detect breaches of integrity rules, and build a public service that is transparent and enjoys higher levels of citizen trust.
A variety of models exist, as documented by the first EU Anti-Corruption Report. The models differ with respect to:
The workshop, organised in two sessions, discussed:
1: Effective format of asset declarations
The session kicked off with a presentation by Michael Kubiciel, University of Cologne, titled Income declaration as an alternative to asset declaration in Germany.The German model of secondary income declaration for Members of Parliament served as a basis for the roundtable discussion. One participant noted that income offenses have often been easier to identify and prosecute than corruption. Other interventions pointed to the possibility of mixed systems (assets and income) and of covering secondary income above a certain threshold, shares, bonds, board memberships and contracts. The degree to which a mandatory versus voluntary system is desirable was also raised. Another thread in the discussion concerned declaration of activities, to address the practice of revolving doors.
The level of public disclosure varies across Member States – with some countries publishing the entire content of declarations, depending on the category of officials concerned (government members, elected officials, appointed officials, etc.) and others making a distinction between information that is public and information that is recorded and hence subject to verification but not publicly available, again, depending on the category of officials concerned. Some systems extend the obligation to close family members, but only part of the information declared is made public because of privacy concerns.
2: Effective monitoring verification and sanctioning
The presentation by Ruslan Stefanov from the Centre for the Study of Democracy, focused on minimum standards for disclosure, how to better monitor and verify asset declarations, the need for better cooperation between administrative and law-enforcement institutions, and the use of electronic tools, and dissuasive sanctions.
Asset disclosure was discussed as a tool in deterring corruption by increasing its costs. Participants pointed to the usefulness of asset declarations as evidence in court proceedings. An extension of the asset and interest declarations verification can detect conflict of interest in public procurement.
Verification was discussed in detail, including the independence, powers and tools available to the bodies in charge. Checks may concern conformity with the obligation and consistency of the information. Some national bodies use specialised software. Cross-verification with other registries (business, population, tax, etc.) is essential to detect inconsistencies, which can lead to further verification and investigation.
The limits of asset disclosure for detecting corruption were also discussed, with participants pointing to the practice of concealing assets under the name of a spouse or child. Where asset declarations are not accompanied by effective tools to address the revolving-doors phenomenon, the power of the system to prevent corruption may be limited.