21 October 2014

The pattern of corruption reported each week by media around the World is sufficient to perpetually dishearten most who believe in human decency. Professions and vocations traditionally thought to embody honourable conduct and to deserve respect, have lost their sheen. Just this week

  • British bankers have again been found to have been manipulating the Libor,
  • India seems mortified that many of its elite are fraud beneficiaries with sums equivalent to much of the nation’s currency reserves being held in personal accounts with Swiss banks,
  • the Chinese National Peoples’ Congress is proposing better deterrents for fraud in a week when not only has a former Deputy Chairman of the Central Military Commission admitted to massive fraud, including the selling of military appointments, but the Supreme Peoples’ Protectorate  has reported that detected fraud over the last year has increased by almost 38%,
  • more than 50 senior Spanish politicians close to the Prime Minister have acquired sizeable Swiss bank accounts from payments throughout the GFC from property developers,
  • United States lobbyists are shown to have successfully “courted” States’ Attorneys-General to spike investigations into anti-competitive practices by big business,
  • Austrian banknote printers have engaged in large scale bribery in Azerbaijan,
  • Balkans corruption is pervasive, and a substantial proportion of $ 2bn US aid to the region is funding Manhattan condos and art collections for its political leaders,
  • New Zealand medical professionals are defrauding the Accident Compensation Corporation of about $2.5m a year,
  • An Australia mining executive has defrauded his company of at least $4 m over the last year,
  • A former NZ drug squad detective has pleaded guilty to stealing drugs stored for presentation as trial exhibits.

Similar incidents occur with undiminishing frequency.  If the UN Convention Against Corruption has had influence it is to slow down the growth of corruption, the incidence of corruption seems unaffected.  New institutions like the Open Government Partnership have adopted a broader approach to promoting trustworthy government, but the OGP looks increasing just like another international organisation.

In September President Obama criticised the OGP for not focusing on corruption.  Undue influence continues corrupting political systems, diverted public funds are still corrupting national development, weakened control agencies allow the corrupting of government integrity, and in too many places,  the payment of bribes is corrupting the delivery of basic services. The objective of Open Government is good government. Good government reflects public trust. There will be no trust without trustworthy officials.

Trust cannot coexist with corruption. The President emphasised the need to fight corruption  “….Corruption is not simply immoral, from a practical perspective it can be used to siphon off billions of dollars that would be better spent promoting development. Corruption leads to inequality, it fuels human rights abuses, it strengthens organised crime and terrorism, and ultimately leads to instability.”