Bea Edwards of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) makes the
point that not all whistleblowers blow the whistle on purpose.
Sometimes a person can expose a scenario by accident and then they are
surprised when the organization in question retaliates against them.
Edwards points out that those whistleblowers, unlike the majority of
whistleblowers, haven't had the opportunity to make the potentially
agonising moral decision as to whether or not they should blow the
How does a tip about a corrupt transaction get reported?
Mark Worth of TI says that TI has a network of Advocacy Legal Advice
Centres (ALACs) that since 2003 has logged 150,000 complaints and
How could one of those tips be exposed?
The panel outlines the steps needed:
- The tip first goes to a journalist
- The journalist must have the help of an expert researcher to verify
the information in the tip. Often, those researchers are internet
- Once the facts have been established, it may be appropriate to
invite local media/journalists to help write the story
- The story is then published, possibly on the internet (for maximum
- Steps must be taken to protect the whistleblower
Currently sitting in on one of the last sessions of the day. This
one's entitled 'Illicit Financial Flows: Plugging the Leaks to Curtail
Corruption and Promote Economic Development'.
Raymond Baker, Director of the Task Force on Financial Integrity and
Economic Development relates a story about how he once gave a talk on
the issue of banking secrecy and the problem of beneficial ownership.
A member of the audience at this talk (a banker) asked Baker: "Do you
know how much it would cost a bank if they had to work out who the
beneficial owner was of every one of their accounts?"
Baker replied that it would cost the price of a stamp. The bank would
simply have to send a letter to each bank account holder and ask for
details on the beneficial owner within the next 6 months. The letter
would state the potential penalties of lying to the bank. Also, the
letter would state that if the bank believes that the account holder
has lied about the beneficial owner of the account, the bank would
freeze the account until they decided what actions to take.
This, Baker said, would mean that banks had the correct details of
99.5% of all beneficial account holders and would cost next to
Afghani officials and activists at a news conference here say they are making progress in fighting corruption but huge challenges remain. (Tag below was cut off prematurely).
Masses of aid is flooding into the country to rebuild schools, civic centres and roads with little if any oversight, some monitoring groups said. "Aid brings about a lot of corruption and a lot of other problems," said Seema Ghani, executive director of Monitoring and Evaluation Committee Secretariat.
Mohammad Amin Khuramji from the High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption said 150 cases have been brought against officials including ministers since the office was formed in 2008 and many new laws and procedures adopted. But it requires political will and strong enforcement to root out corruption, he said.
I'm in a workshop entitled 'Open Banking & Financial Transparency 2.0'
Ruth Goodwin-Groen of the Better Than Cash Alliance presents on how
electronic payment systems can increase transparency, reduce
corruption and reduce distribution costs vis-a-vis cash payments.
Goodwin-Groen says that when the Afghan police first got paid via
electronic wallets as opposed to cash, the police thought they had
been given a 30% pay raise. They had not, they had simply received
their full wages and previously various middlemen had skimmed off a
percentage of their wages before it got to the police officer .
Simon Redfern presents his initiative, The Open Bank Project.
The project is fairly radical in the sense that it advocates literally
opening up bank accounts so that the public can see the transactions.
Redfern says that the open source software behind the Open Bank
Project could be particularly useful for charities and social
entrepreneurs which are accountable to their donors. Donors can see
money coming in and out of a charity's bank account in real time.
Also, Redfern says that payments to individuals can be anonymized
should it be required as not everyone is comfortable with having their
wages published on the web. In Redfern's own business, monthly wages
to staff are partially anonymized so that they and published as $2000
to software developer 1 as opposed to $2000 to John Smith.
Redfern also briefly describes the website www.opencorporates.com
which is an attempt to map the way in which corporations are
organised, where their subsidiaries are located and how those
subsidiaries relate to the parent company.
A member of the audience suggests to Redfern that if he want banks to
take up the Open Bank Project, he should speak to mutual banks and
cooperatives. In those cases, the customer is also the shareholder and
so the bank is likely to be more receptive to a customer's idea.
One of the audience members asks:
"What if suppliers or customers of a Open Bank Project user don't wish
to have their payments made public?"
Redfern says that aliases can be used with them too but he admits that
it can potentially be a source of tension.
In PEOPLE POWER panel Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon, known for issuing an international arrest warrant for former Chilean President Pinochet, says not enough is being done to end impunity for corrupt leaders. Neither the judicial system nor the financial system is taking a stand. For example, allowing tax havens to flourish as a way for corrupt people to hide money is "absolutely unacceptable." He calls for the European Union to take the lead in shutting off the use of the financial system for illicit funds.
Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, former chairman of Anglo American plc and of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, says he is encouraged by growth over the last 15 years in the engagement between civil society groups and business to draw up common principles, be it on labor and human rights, the environment, investment, forestry and mining, or corruption. This engagement between business and coalitions or local networks can play an important role in addressing social issues, including corruption, he said.
A number of Brazilian activists are speaking out in plenary sessions and workshops here, expressing immense anger and frustration over vote buying and corrupt local officials, lack of strong law enforcement, condemning what they call entrenched elites in Brazil, and wanting solutions that will help give the people in the favelas a stronger political voice. Few of the speakers or panelists are from Brazil though, or from developing countries, creating a gap between ideas and action.
Closing plenary begins, Defining Our Future - Shaping the Global Governance Agenda. Its focus is actions points -- how to end impunity for corrupt activities; how to increase government accountability, and the role of the media.
Dr. Naser Al Sane, from Kuwait and chair of Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, said: "We are here to face a monster that takes USD 1 trillion of our wealth." He compared the government to a bear in the forest and citizens to rabbits, innocent and friendly who see only the details. He said parliamentarians are the legitimate representatives of the people who are not using their responsibilities sufficiently to tackle corruption.
Carolyn Nordstrom, professor of anthropology at the University of California, shared her views as an ethnographer at the IACC 15th conference. She said she saw that "the future is here", new values have emerged and are interlinked in cyberspace "but the institutions have not caught up with us." She called for the anti corruption movement to take risks, quoting one activist who said: "Transparency is very good when it is done in a radical way."
The International Press Institute counted 102 journalists killed last year and 82 pct were investigative journalists covering some form of corruption, said Alison Bethel Mckenzie, IPI executive director. Media play a crucial role in addressing corruption, she said, because countries with a free press have lower levels of corruption. Better training of journalists in investigative techniques is needed to increase trust and communication betwen journalists and civil society, and journalists and government, she said.
Rousing concluding speech from Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International. He said ending impunity is essential -- for banks that accept the funds of the corrupt, as well as by holding accountable those who steal the money.
"Don't let them get away with it," he said. "It won't be easy. It is complicated. It needs to be done. So many suffer. It seems no one pays and no one cares. That is a world we will not accept."
Transparency International's own research has shown that the idea that ordinary citizens do not care about corruption is a myth, and that they think it is a problem mainly of the developing world also is a myth.
In fact TI reseach found that in Europe, three quarters of citizens believe corruption is a problem in their country, and that 70 pct of people surveyed believe they want to and they can do something about corruption, de Swardt said.
Sir Mark Moody Stuart, former chairman of Anglo American plc and of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, pledges to bring business people from the extractive industries who are part of the UN Global Compact to the table to discuss anti-corruption solutions with civil society activists. He gets claps from the audience.
Another person in the audience proposes that NGOs walk the walk and start to publish their own salaries in the interests of transparency.
Cobus de Swardt urged leaders of his native South Africa to fight corruption at the top and disclose their financial assets. "That would send a lightening bolt through the country that we are serious about fighting corruption."