29 May 2011

In what reads much like a lecture to first year law students,  Russia’s President Medvedev spoke last week of the  damaging effect on the Russian economy of corruption and the lack of a consistent rule of law.  He called on senior officials and judges to ensure property rights were protected and the law implemented.

“Even the best laws will not work, will remain simple declarations, if judicial institutions don’t work, or if the institutional procedures are too flabby or excessive….Shortcomings in implementing laws, a lack of respect for courts and corruption are not just the perceptions of society but they are basically macro-economic factors which restrain the growth of national prosperity,” he said.

However  Russia’s anti bribery groups claim that corruption has become more common during Medvedev’s presidency.

Transparency International rated Russia 154th out of 178 nations in its corruption perceptions index last year, ranking below India, China and Brazil. The CPI of course is a measure of public sector fraud. Disregard for integrity appears to be shared with the private sector as the President acknowledged the astonishing extent of losses to corruption.

President Medvedev said he had made progress in creating what he called a “lawful state” but admitted there was still a vast amount of work to be done to help businesses.  Good government requires a focus on integrity from all its employees.

The largely corruption-free record of New Zealand State services has had a knock over the last few weeks with the first ever corruption conviction of a prison officer and a media report that another is to be sentenced on corruption charges shortly.

Employee offending in the New Zealand private sector is worse than in government. The personal verification website shows most cases of theft as a servant were in the private sector although officials were over represented among people convicted of using a fraudulent cv.  Where fraud is suspected, the expectation of the Auditor General is that the matter is referred to the Police ( or the Serious Fraud Office ). Agencies should not act as if they have a discretion.

Russian agencies appear unconstrained.  In 2010 the equivalent of more than $US $35 billion was stolen in State contracts alone.