The event was hosted by New Delhi (India) on September 9 and 10. The summit concluded with the adoption of the leaders’ declaration reaffirming the commitment of the G20 countries to zero tolerance for corruption, enhanced international cooperation in the fight against corruption and asset recovery and increased effectiveness of anti-corruption bodies.
The leaders also endorsed a number of documents drafted by the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG):
The document contains recommendations on the establishment of integrity culture in the bodies and authorities responsible for the prevention of and the fight against corruption, in particular:
- provide them with the powers to prevent corruption by enshrining in the law the functions of these bodies, to oversee the implementation of their recommendations and directions, put in place the oversight mechanism, establish reporting channels and protection mechanisms etc.;
- provide them with the necessary independence and resources to enable them to carry out their functions effectively and free from undue influence, in particular, ensure a transparent and merit-based selection process for the appointment also of the leadership, take measures to safeguard such bodies and authorities from arbitrary budgetary changes that could prevent them from effectively fulfilling their responsibilities, empower them to establish and maintain their own policies;
- ensure that these bodies and authorities are open and transparent and that they maintain accountability in the performance of their functions without affecting their necessary independence;
- ensure high standards of integrity for officials of these bodies and authorities, including through codes of conduct and training, ensure that high-level management demonstrate their personal commitment to high standard of propriety, proactive detection and management of conflicts of interest, develop systems of disclose of assets and interest, establish reporting channels etc.;
- enhance the effectiveness of cooperation of these bodies and authorities with the supreme audit institutions and financial intelligence units, promote interdisciplinary research, exchange of experience and good practices;
- enhance their capacity to counter new or emerging challenges and risks, including regular assessment of corruption risks, active use of information and communication technologies, research and exchange of knowledge in the fight against corruption with a wide range of stakeholders.
The document defines the key lines of interaction of law enforcement authorities in the fight against corruption, namely:
- establish and/or strengthen effective international law enforcement cooperation in the fight against corruption also by envisaging this possibility in the law, develop model agreements that can be concluded by law enforcement authorities to exchange information, adopt measures to conduct joint/parallel investigations etc.;
- use channels of cooperation of the law enforcement authorities to provide assistance in countering corruption crimes also by assisting in identifying, tracing and, where appropriate, accessing publicly available information concerning persons of interest, including confirming the authenticity of government issued documents or assisting in verifying the information contained therein;
- ensure effective mechanisms for sharing beneficial ownership information, foster efficient cross-border sharing of such information, address challenges in collecting, processing, verifying and exchanging adequate, accurate, and up-to-date information etc.;
- strengthen spontaneous sharing of information without a prior request,
- develop law enforcement cooperation at the international level, including exchange of experience in the use of new and emerging technologies;
- explore ways to streamline the processes to better utilize information, exchanged through bilateral treaties and multilateral conventions relating to cooperation, for investigation and prosecution of corruption.
The document contains the basic principles of asset recovery mechanisms for combating corruption, including:
- make the recovery and return of proceeds of crime an anti-corruption policy objective and introduce relevant legal provisions;
- ensure that tools, mechanisms and processes for the timely and effective identification and tracing of proceeds of crime are available to relevant domestic authorities and can be used effectively for making and executing international cooperation requests for asset tracing and identification, identify single or multiple domestic authority (-ies) as the focal point/focal points for asset recovery and ensure that this authority (-ies) timely receives (-ve) the necessary information;
- ensure also at the legal level the timely restraint, freezing or seizure of proceeds of crime to prevent their movement across jurisdictions and dissipation, and provide competent authorities with the adequate authority, processes, and tools to this end;
- ensure that the national asset recovery framework of G20 countries provides for the use of a wide range of legal powers, tools, and measures for effective asset recovery, which may include non-conviction-based confiscation or equivalent civil or administrative measures, value-based freezing, seizure and confiscation, confiscation of proceeds of crime held in the name of or transferred to non-bona fide third parties;
- ensure timely and effective coordination and communication between countries’ competent authorities, to facilitate timely execution of cross-jurisdictional asset recovery requests, develop relevant channels and procedures;
- make use of open-source and other relevant information for successful asset recovery.
The new Accountability Report is focused on the progress made by the G20 countries in providing effective mutual legal assistance (MLA).
The ACWG stresses that G20 members have developed and implemented internal mechanisms for processing MLA requests that take into consideration domestic laws and legal provisions of multilateral/bilateral treaties, mutual guarantees or based on individual approaches.
These mechanisms, however, have turned out to have a number of shortcomings, in particular:
- differences in domestic legal frameworks and regimes, administrative and procedural gaps affecting processing of MLA requests, including the identification of competent authorities, formal requirements and reasonable execution time;
- incomplete requests without essential detail;
- lack of adequate and timely responses;
- operational challenges such as lack of high-quality translation in other languages, impossibility to find the relevant email of the MLA competent authorities, lack of confirmations of receipt of requests;
- lack of effective direct cooperation channels, for example, digital ones.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of provision of MLA it is recommended that G20 countries:
- conduct preliminary consultation between competent authorities of the countries intending to conclude relevant agreements to clarify the procedures for requesting MLA;
- develop cooperation between domestic authorities;
- ensure timely and effective processing of MLA requests also by exchanging experience, participating in relevant international training programmes, capacity building of domestic law enforcement authorities and prosecutors in the MLA matters;
- actively cooperate with existing informal networks and groups at the global and regional levels;
- use digital technologies to enhance accessibility of information related to MLA requests also to transmit requests and exchange evidence in a secure manner;
- develop channels of direct communication between competent authorities, including informal ones;
- establish dedicated working groups in the competent authorities with the necessary expertise in the provision of MLA;
- conduct joint online meetings for the representatives of competent authorities to ensure smooth cooperation.
The document provides analysis of the experience of G20 countries in involving audit institutions, including supreme audit institutions or SAIs, in the fight against corruption.
The ACWG experts highlight that the role of these bodies in combating corruption is recognised at the international level, in particular, in such documents as the political declaration “Our common commitment to effectively addressing challenges and implementing measures to prevent and combat corruption and strengthen international cooperation” adopted in the UN General Assembly special session against corruption and the Abu Dhabi Declaration adopted in the 8th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UN Convention against corruption.
A number of challenges persist in this area, in particular:
- timely restrictions: for instance, India and Brazil have too short statute of limitations for the actions on the recovery of fines and/or compensation for the offences detected by the audit institutions, which hampers effective law enforcement in complex cases related to corruption;
- interaction with law enforcement: in Indonesia and South Africa, joint work of audit institutions and law enforcement authorities is hindered by the lack of a “single language” and the incapacity of law enforcement officers to understand the peculiarities of the corruption schemes detected by the auditors;
- lack of qualified staff;
- lack of access to complete and accurate data: the paper highlights, in particular, that in India the audit institutions cannot always obtain the necessary data, which impedes effective verifications and delays their deadlines.
The Compendium stresses that in order to enhance the effectiveness of the activities conducted by audit institutions with the aim to counter corruption the G20 should:
- develop and implement a reliable legal framework for accounting, audit standards and oversight of public finances that would allow audit institutions to achieve results in the fight against corruption;
- adopt measures to enhance the potential of audit institutions also by allocating necessary resources, providing them with sufficient independence, conducting training, implementing merit-based recruitment, promotion and retention system;
- define necessary corrective actions to audits, ensure due control of their implementation and imposition of liability in case of failure to take them;
- develop cooperation between audit institutions, anti-corruption bodies, financial intelligence units, law enforcement authorities etc. internal auditors, as well as with international, regional and domestic expert groups in the relevant area;
- use information and communication technologies to enhance effectiveness of public audit to counter corruption also with a view to providing the general public with the access to the findings of audits, exchanging knowledge and expertise between auditors, analysing big data in conducting audits, also in assessing corruption risks. South Korea, for instance, developed the BARON system to analyse data that gathers and analyses the financial and other information on the budget and expenses, contracts, licences provided by public bodies etc.