Singapore, Australia join UK, US in first global effort against ‘grand corruption’

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A UK-led multinational centre comprising law enforcement agencies from the US, Canada, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand was launched this week in what is said to be the first global partnership to coordinate action against grand corruption.

The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACC) hosted by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) aims to bring together enforcers from multiple jurisdictions across the world for the purpose of improving fast-time intelligence sharing, assisting countries that have suffered from grand corruption and bringing corrupt elites to justice.

“There is no doubt that the world’s major economies are abused by corrupt leaders. We have a responsibility to guard against that abuse, limit the damage it causes to countries already battling poverty, and pursue the individuals who put self-interest above the welfare of citizens,” said Donald Toon, NCA Director of Economic Crime in a statement on the launch.

According to Toon, while there has been significant cooperation between countries in tackling transnational serious crime, there is no such global mechanism specifically aimed at coordinating action against grand corruption.

He added that from experience, dedicated centres for collaborative effort on crime will add value to successful law enforcement action.

“And we will use all our combined expertise to tackle the most complex and devastating cases of corruption.”

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According to the NCA, “grand corruption” can include “acts of corruption by politically exposed persons that may involve vast quantities of assets and that threaten political stability and sustainable development.”

Acts that might fall into this category include bribery of public officials, embezzlement, abuse of function or the laundering of the proceeds of crime.

NCA added that large-scale corruption increases poverty incidence in underdeveloped or developing nations as well as inequality, undermines good business and threatens the integrity of financial markets.

The founding of the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACC) was the result of a pledge made at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London. Source: US Department of State,

“Bribery and corruption distorts competitive conditions resulting in an inefficient allocation of resources and economic disparity,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) Deputy Commissioner Operations Neil Gaughan said in comments on the centre.

“International corruption requires a global response; it is a threat to democracy, destabilising, corrosive of good governance and an impediment to economic development.”

The AFP is Australia’s representative on the committee, which also includes Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office, the New Zealand Police, Canadian Mounted Police and the US’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

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CPIB director Wong Hong Kuan said of the centre: “Corruption has become increasingly transnational in nature and can severely affect national interests.

“The IACCC provides a platform for enhancing international coordination against grand corruption.”

Interpol, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are scheduled to join the centre later this year.

“Corruption creates a fertile ground for organized criminal activities and terrorism. It undermines political, social and economic stability, ultimately threatening the safety and security of society as a whole.

“With financial crime trails often revealing connections around the world, a united effort is essential if we are to combat this global scourge with criminals stealing billions from the public purse,” said Tim Morris, Interpol’s Executive Director of Police Services.

According to a commitment made during the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit, the UK’s NCA will host the IACCC until 2021, with support from UK government departments.

Switzerland and Germany, who were involved in the design and establishment of the IACCC, will remain as observers, participating in the IACCC Governance Board meetings whenever required.

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