Combatting Corruption: Marking the Anniversary of the Anniversary of the UN Corruption Convention’s Ratification

By: Daniela Melendez Garces, Associate at The Volkov Law Group

UN Corruption Convention’s Ratification

In October 2003, the General Assembly officially ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption (“Corruption Convention”). Since that time, a total of 190 countries have ratified the Corruption Convention and agreed to be bound by its anti-corruption obligations. This marks the first time in recent history, where most of the countries around the world had a shared vision on how to tackle the fight against corruption. In ratifying the Corruption Convention, the General Assembly also designated each ninth of December as “International Anti-Corruption Day” to raise awareness of the consequences corruption has in contemporary society and to highlight the Convention’s role in combating and preventing it.

A steadfast commitment to combatting corruption is important for a variety of reasons. Among other things, corruption undermines democracy by impairing the proper functioning of government institutions and eroding public confidence in the rule of law. Global corruption also results in a marked decrease in foreign direct investment, which in turn, inhibits the growth of small businesses. Moreover, corruption frustrates the ability of global governments to meet the basic needs of underprivileged populations by artificially inflating costs related to the provision of healthcare, education, public transportation, and retirement. In addition, corruption functions to exacerbate income inequality and results in the growth of illicit financing channels for illegal armed groups, which in turn, fuels money laundering and financing of terrorism.

The anniversary of the Corruption Convention’s ratification this year has focused on the link between corruption, peace, security and development.  Among other things, during the 2022 calendar year, the U.S. the Department of Justice has zealously pursued a number of entities and individuals for corruption-related offenses. Some of the most notable highlights pertaining to enforcement of anti-corruption laws include:

  • Tysers Insurance Brokers Limited and H.W. Wood: both reinsurance companies agreed to pay bribes to Ecuadorian officials through their employees and agents.
  • Albermarle Corp: entered into a three-year NPA for agreeing to pay bribes to government officials in three different countries. The company agreed to pay a penalty of approximately $98.2 million and to forfeit approximately $98.5 million in profits.
  • Corficolombiana S.A.: a member of a joint venture with Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction conglomerate. Through a high-level executive, Corficolombiana agreed to pay more than $23 million in bribes to win a contract to construct and operate a highway toll road, which led to over $28 million in illicit profits.
  • The DOJ’s Fraud section charged more than 240 individuals this year.
  • Corsa Coal: Corsa Coal’s employees and agents engaged in bribery scheme with an Egyptian state-owned company to obtain contracts to supply coal. However, the company self-disclosed the misconduct, fully cooperated with the DOJs independent investigation, timely and appropriately remediated identified deficiencies, and disgorged illegal profits emanating from the bribery scheme.

During the recent American Conference Institute International meeting on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), U.S. government agencies highlighted their continuing commitment to collaborate both on an inter-institutional basis and with their international partners to build global capacity to fight corruption. In this regard, the DOJ created the International Corporate Anti-Bribery initiative (“ICAB”)—an initiative spearheaded by several veteran federal prosecutors, who will be responsible for building upon existing bilateral and multilateral partnerships. Furthermore, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ’s Criminal Division announced that the Fraud Section is proactively using data analytics to identify and prosecute FCPA cases and will continue to bring new technology to identify FCPA violations and to bring more cases. In addition, the DOJ released the New Safe Harbor policy with the main goal of encouraging companies to disclose wrongdoing.

In short, domestic and foreign efforts aimed at bolstering international capacity to engage in a systemic assault on the scourge of corruption are in full swing. The anniversary of the Corruption Convention’s ratification is a prescient reminder that the fight against corruption is a legal and political imperative.

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