Combating Impunity and Exposing Illicit Wealth: Towards an APEC Network on Prosecuting Bribery and Corruption and Tracking Illicit Financial Flows (Dirty Money)
Director for Anticrime Programs , Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
It is a pleasure to be here with you as we begin the new APEC year.
The United States applauds the leadership of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia as the APEC Host Economy in 2013 and the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as Chair of this year’s APEC Anticorruption and Transparency (ACT) Working Group.
Your Excellency, Bambang Widjowanto, KPK Deputy Chairman, as a previous Chair of this very important and influential sub-forum in APEC, let me congratulate you on your appointment as our new ACT Chair and commend your life-long commitment to promoting human rights, advancing the rule of law, and safeguarding integrity in Indonesia.
The KPK remains a model within APEC on prosecuting high-level corruption cases, including within the police and security agencies, and demonstrating to us all that no official is above the law. The ACT must continue to support the KPK and all of our economies’ anticorruption authorities to eradicate corruption, safeguard integrity and public trust, and restore people’s faith in government as a steward of equality and justice.
I would also like to thank the Government of the Russian Federation for its leadership last year, and applaud all of the economies here for our collective achievements in 2012. I am confident that we will make great gains this year on developing an APEC regional network of anticorruption authorities that further protects our economies against abuses of power and the plunder of our national assets, human capital, and natural resources.
In 2013, we must work together to achieve the three core objectives outlined in our ACT five-year strategy: 1) to minimize impunity and kleptocracy by preventing and prosecuting public corruption; 2) to level the playing field for all businesses by fighting foreign bribery; and 3) to shut down the illegal economy and criminalized markets by combating corruption and illicit trade.
Combating Impunity and Kleptocracy: Enough is Enough!
No economy is immune from corruption, nor can any economy combat it alone. In addition to effective governance within our own jurisdictions, we must take collective action to improve governance across borders and reconfigure the way we fight corruption with smarter, more holistic strategies and approaches. We must work to prevent the flow of illicit funds, including proceeds of corruption.
APEC Leaders recognized the ACT work program in the 2012 Vladivostok Declaration on Fighting Corruption. They emphasized their commitment to investigate and prosecute corruption; to enforce our domestic bribery laws and laws criminalizing the bribery of foreign public officials; to fight money laundering and deny safe haven to assets illicitly acquired by individuals engaged in corruption. They also vowed to combat illicit trade by attacking the financial underpinnings of transnational criminal organizations and illicit networks; stripping criminal entrepreneurs and corrupt officials of their illicit wealth; and severing their access to the global financial system.
The Vladivostok Declaration also renewed and elevated APEC Leaders’ commitment to “enhance public trust by committing to transparent, fair, and accountable governance” to empower communities to monitor government policies and voice their perspectives on the use of resources.
Voice and accountability can not only help check corruption, but also allow our citizens and communities to take hold of their destinies, enjoy higher standards of living, and trust that their governments exist to do good. Transparent and open governments tend to pursue cost-effective policies; minimize misallocation of resources; and attract investment from companies looking for solid investment environments and opportunities. This is why eight APEC member countries (Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Philippines, Russia, and the United States) have joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a multi-stakeholder initiative launched in 2011 to promote transparency, enhance accountability, and fight corruption. Indonesia is also a co-chair of the OGP’s Steering Committee this year, and its leadership of both the OGP and the ACT presents an opportunity for us all to further our efforts to enhance public trust and raise standards of living.
Our Leaders have spoken. They have repeatedly affirmed their will to combat corruption across the Asia Pacific region. We must answer them with a transformative good governance agenda that will anchor economic growth and development from Moscow to Jakarta, from Beijing to Lima, from San Francisco to Sydney, and transform people’s lives across all markets in APEC.
ACT colleagues, we must act decisively and collectively to implement the five-year strategy. I am confident that we can fulfill our Leaders’ mandate and achieve APEC’s broader agenda to secure open markets, economic prosperity, and the rule of law.
Fighting All Forms of Bribery
Continued cooperation with the private sector is a critical component of our efforts to level the playing field for businesses across APEC economies.
Our recent work with the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and other partners has ushered in a new era of cooperation between the public and private sectors. This partnership is enhancing market integrity and forging a more connected, innovative, and dynamic Asia Pacific region that thrives on openness and a rules-based approach to trade and investment.
We can do more. Building on the APEC Santiago Commitment, the APEC Code of Conduct for Business (Business Integrity and Transparency Principles for the Private Sector), and the Complementary Anti-Corruption Principles for the Public and Private Sectors, we can vigorously enforce domestic bribery laws, including laws criminalizing the bribery of foreign public officials, and fulfill our international obligations. I also hope that we can continue to share experiences and best practices in combating foreign bribery, enlist the private sector as a partner in combating bribery, and provide specialized training to make greater inroads on this important front.
We can minimize corruption as a significant market and trade barrier and improve the investment climate in our economies by ensuring that we effectively investigate and prosecute corrupt public officials and those who bribe them, in compliance with our respective domestic laws and international obligations, where appropriate, under the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and similar instruments.
The United States looks forward to working with Indonesia, China, and all economies to support stronger bribery enforcement, prosecutions, and other actions in APEC in 2013-2014.
Combating Illicit Trade and Shutting Down the Illegal Economy
Sustainable economic growth also depends on our progress to combat illicit trade and its pernicious impact on the environment and markets.
Illicit trade and the illegal economy undermine social stability and the welfare of our communities. Illicit enterprises not only distort the legal economy, but they also divert revenue from legitimate market drivers such as businesses and governments. Illicit trade further hampers development by preventing the equitable distribution of public goods. But this goes beyond just economic harm. The illegal economy also incurs a significant negative social cost, and in some cases, devastates vital ecosystems and habitats.
The dumping of toxic waste contaminates our food and water supplies. Illegal logging and deforestation or poaching exacerbate climate change and undermine our ability in APEC to advance inclusive, green, sustainable development. Poaching and trafficking of endangered wildlife robs economies of their natural assets and their future.
The corruption that allows counterfeit or ineffective pharmaceuticals to enter our communities endangers public health, denying the sick effective treatment and permitting deadly diseases to mutate and become untreatable.
The corruption that allows traffickers to move people across borders and exploit them with impunity not only violates individuals’ basic rights and freedoms but also stunts both their and their communities’ economic potential and political development.
Kleptocracy and the embezzlement of national revenue and assets that are intended to finance the future for our citizens impair the ability of communities to make the investments necessary to stimulate growth. Revenue that could be used to build roads to facilitate commerce, hospitals to save lives, homes to raise and protect families, or schools to educate future leaders and entrepreneurs is instead siphoned away for private gain.
APEC has a number of tools in its toolkit to combat corruption and illicit trade, and we have an ongoing opportunity to work together to comprehensively and holistically combat corruption, as well as illicit finance more broadly; to foster integrity in global markets and supply chains; and to protect and promote economic growth and shared prosperity.
Among them is the ACT Multi-Year Project that Thailand and Chile are co-leading on ways to combat money laundering, recover the fruits of corrupt and criminal activity, and track illicit financial flows. As kleptocrats and criminal entrepreneurs continue to hide the proceeds of their crimes in legal structures such as offshore shell companies and foundations and then launder most of that through casinos, financial institutions, or real estate into the global financial system, we must bring them to justice and, where possible, return their illicit wealth back to impacted communities.
To do this effectively, we must also target more aggressively the financial facilitators and service providers who commit crimes in helping corrupt officials, criminals, and illicit networks inject their dirty money into our financial system.
The APEC-ASEAN Pathfinder Workshop on Combating Corruption and Illicit Trade that will be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in June 2013, will advance a dialogue among partners across the Asia Pacific region and strengthen cooperation by creating a network of anticorruption authorities, promoting information and intelligence exchanges, and facilitating cooperation and information sharing in investigations related to corruption and illicit trade and efforts to shut down the illegal economy.
More broadly, we can and should support the effective implementation of global anti-money laundering standards promulgated by the Financial Action Task Force. Among these are preventive measures that facilitate financial transparency and help prevent the flow of proceeds of corruption.
Converting Political Will into Action: Regional Networks and Partnerships
We can build on our APEC anti-corruption and transparency commitments and the collaborative relationships around this table to create a regional network of anti-corruption bodies that would facilitate the sharing of intelligence and information, as well as the sharing of best practices and challenges in effectively tracking cross-border corruption, other crime, and illicit financial flows.
The United States is more committed than ever to combating corruption and illicit trade, and we look forward to the discussion here in Jakarta.
Together, we will create a better, more prosperous future by uniting our efforts to combat corruption and support accountability and good governance. We must turn our shared interests into collective action by developing more comprehensive approaches to combating corruption so that we can prosecute corrupt public officials and those who bribe them.
Again, I wish Indonesia a great and successful year in APEC 2013 and applaud my ACT colleagues for developing and pressing forward on a vibrant course of action to fight corruption and promote integrity—a course that I know will lead us towards economic growth and a stronger foundation to build the new markets and investment frontiers of tomorrow.