9 April 2015

Events over the last few weeks have highlighted how Mexico, an OECD Member state and  Brazil an aspirant for OECD membership, are far from meeting the anti corruption expectations held of Member states.

An OECD Integrity Forum was held in Paris on 25-26 March as part of the OECD Integrity Week – designated the week after the United States has its Integrity Week ( although the OECD Secretary General commented that the OECD didn’t need a special integrity week as every week is an integrity week. ) The Forum is part of what the OECD calls its CleanGovBiz Initiative which encourages governments to reinforce their measures to establish integrity, build trust and counter corruption.

During the week there was a meeting of SPIO – the  OECD Working Party for Senior Public Integrity Officials. The agenda covered

  • Sharing experience, good practices and lessons learnt
  • Analytical tools, peer reviews and comparative data indicators
  • Member state contributions to the Government at a Glance publication
  • Support for CleanGovBiz and other anti corruption initiatives
  • Monitoring implementation of the Council’s integrity recommendations

Meanwhile Mexico and Brazil were in the international headlines.  In Brazil investigators uncovered a scam by which nearly $2 bn dollars – and possibly as much as $5 bn  -has been diverted from the Treasury over the last decade.  The sums involved are much greater than the suspicious payments made by Petrobas – the national oil company – in a separate corruption arrangement.  A tribunal sitting in up to 30 panels to consider appeals against tax demands made on major taxpayers has engaged in extensive slashing of corporate taxes in return for between 1-10% of the sums involved being channeled to the panel members .  Apparently some of the country’s biggest firms are involved – including banks and manufacturers – together with a number of multinational companies.

In Mexico, survey results indicate that the majority of the population believe corruption has increased dramatically over the two years of the current government. Examples of misuse of power abound.  Officials are embezzling public funds for personal property acquisitions, the military and police have been involved in executions and “disappearances”.  Political parties are considered to be the most corrupt institutions, followed by senior public officials, judges, and then State and Federal governments. 36% of survey respondents say that corruption is Mexico’s biggest problem, with 28%  even more fearful of their personal security.