TI-USA on Money, Elections, Elected Officials and Combating Corruption

April 22, 2015

TI-USA today issued a new paper with ten recommendations to promote transparency and integrity in U.S. elections and by elected officials at the federal, state and local levels.  The recommendations include a call for the full, timely and evenhanded disclosure of the original funding sources of PACs and Super-PACs.

As a non-governmental organization dedicated to integrity, transparency and combating corruption, we believe it is important we add our voice to the debate in the U.S. about spending on elections, a debate which has been linked to concerns about corruption and the appearance of corruption. 

Our recommendations address a number of issues at the intersection of money, elected officials and corruption, including those related to the election of judges, asset and outside income disclosures, and gift giving.  View our press release and the paper here.   

 

Treasury must close loopholes to stem the flow of proceeds from foreign corruption into the United States

March 10, 2015

Transparency International-USA sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury, endorsed by 17 civil society organizations, seeking prompt action to require:  1) due diligence by professionals in the real estate sector; and 2) enhanced due diligence by financial institutions of all customers, not just individuals.

Millions of dollars are spent in the United States on luxury property by people who hide behind anonymous companies. Many of the individuals behind these anonymous companies are wealthy foreigners, currently under investigation for corruption and other crimes. The real estate industry does little examination of buyers' identities or backgrounds, and there is no legal requirement for it to do so. 

From our perspective, the effects of anonymous companies go far beyond hiding the ultimate owners of Manhattan's real estate. Anonymous companies allow corrupt politicians and organized crime to transfer and hide illicitly acquired funds worldwide, and fuel an abuse of power and a culture of impunity. Read our press release and letter here.

TI-USA Integrity Award

Call for Nominations"

TI-USA is accepting nominations for the 2015 Integrity Award honoree through March 20, 2015.

  To nominate a deserving individual or organization, see below:

 

To download the nomination form, please click here. 

To review the Integrity Award nomination guidelines, please click here.

 

TI-USA is also accepting nominations for the 2015 Corporate Leadership Award honoree through March 20, 2015.  To download the nomination form, please click here.

 

  

November 4, 2014

                                                                 

TI-USA is pleased to announce that James D. Wolfensohn, Former President of the World Bank Group received the TI-USA Integrity Award and Raytheon received the TI-USA Corporate Leadership Award on November 3, 2014. Sri Mulyani Indrawati of the World Bank Group offered special remarks. For more information on the 2014 Integrity Award Dinner,click here.

Mr. Wolfensohn and Raytheon join prior TI-USA distinguished awardees Senator Richard Lugar, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Paul Volcker, Fluor, The Coca-Cola Company and General Electric.

 

Exporting Corruption: Assessing Enforcement of the OECD Convention on Combatting Foreign Bribery

October 23, 2014

Transparency International (TI) released its tenth annual progress report on the enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention (the Convention) and the results are disheartening. The Convention is important for curbing foreign bribery because its forty one signatory countries collectively account for approximately two-thirds of world exports. TI’s annual Progress Report, issued today, presents an independent assessment of the status of enforcement of the Convention by 40 of the 41 Parties. The Progress Report ranks Parties’ enforcement efforts into four enforcement categories  -- active, moderate, limited, and little or no enforcement, based on each country’s enforcement actions from 2010 to 2013. Only four countries rank as “active” enforcers, with the United States topping the list with the highest number of investigations and cases. The other active enforcers are Germany, the U.K, and Switzerland. Five countries rank as moderate enforcers -- Italy, Canada, Australia, Austria, and Finland. The remaining Parties fall into the categories of limited and little or no enforcement, which means there is no deterrence to foreign bribery in countries which make up 34.6% of the world’s exports. See more, click here.

 

Stopping the Corrupt: Actions the U.S. Can Take

August 29, 2014

The worldwide Transparency International movement is launching a new campaign, entitled Unmask the Corrupt. This campaign is focused on ending the impunity enjoyed by kleptocrats and other corrupt public officials.  The campaign calls on governments around the world to require transparency for the beneficial owners of corporations, deny visas to those engaged in corrupt activities, and require that sellers of luxury goods properly scrutinize their customers to screen out those who may be attempting to use the proceeds from their corrupt activities to purchase yachts, planes, performance automobiles, or other luxury items.  Here is what the U.S. can do.

 

Verification of Anti-Corruption Compliance Programs: New Guidance from Transparency International–USA

July 24, 2014

Transparency International-USA released today its report, Verification of Anti-Corruption Compliance Programs.  The 40 page guide sets forth concrete recommendations for companies to use in evaluating their anti-corruption compliance programs. The report, which is based on an in-depth examination of compliance verification practices, is intended to strengthen corporate anti-corruption compliance programs and to improve public credibility regarding their effectiveness.

This report was prepared with financial support from the Siemens Integrity Initiative.

 

                 

        TI-USA Employment Opportunities

TI-USA is seeking a Fundraising Officer and Interns.  All details are under "Who We Are-Jobs and Internships".

KEY PRIORITIES

Addressing Corruption through Trade Agreements

January 7, 2015

The recently negotiated World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement will simplify customs procedures. A key outcome of these changes is less opportunity for corruption related to the import and export of goods.  This article discusses key Articles of the Agreement and how each one reduces corruption risk. 

Click here for article

 

Transparency International’s open letter to the G20 leaders

November 10, 2014

Transparency International (TI) released an open letter to the G20 leaders today, five days before the leaders’ summit in Brisbane, Australia.  The letter, signed by 25 prominent civil society, religious and academic leaders, including two Nobel Peace Prize winners, calls on the G20 to collect and publish the identity of the real, living people who ultimately own and control companies and other legal entities and to ensure that multinational corporations publish information about revenues, profits, and taxes paid, on a country-by-country basis.  The initiative coincides with a social media campaign, organized by TI, to send more than two million tweets to the G20 leaders for its Unmask the Corrupt Campaign. The campaign calls on governments around the world to introduce beneficial ownership transparency regulations, deny visas to corrupt officials, and to require sellers of luxury goods to scrutinize their customers to screen out those attempting to buy luxury items from proceeds of corruption.  A full text of the letter is available click here :

 

Treasury's Customer Due Diligence Rule

October 2, 2014

TI-USA welcomes Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) Notice of a Proposed Rulemaking about customer due diligence requirements for financial institutions issued in late July 2014.  We support the efforts of the U.S. Treasury and specifically FinCEN’s efforts to address the need to collect beneficial owner information on the natural persons behind legal entities.  Financial institutions have a crucial role to play as the first line of defence against the transfer of corrupt funds.  Therefore, requiring financial institutions to obtain and verify beneficial ownership information for accountholders is critical to keep the proceeds of corruption and other crimes from being laundered through the U.S. financial system.  TI-USA submitted comments to strengthen the definition of beneficial owner, ensure that financial institutions are required to take reasonable steps to verify beneficial owners, and ensure that beneficial ownership information is also collected on existing accounts by using a risk- based approach. Our comments are available here.

 

   G20 Anti-Corruption Advocacy Work

 

TI-USA continues to advocate for implementation and enforcement of the G20 2013-2014 Anti-Corruption Action Plan.  We are leading the Anti-Corruption Policy group for Inter-Action which is an alliance organization of  more than 180 U.S.-based international nongovernmental organizations.  TI-USA has drafted the Inter-Action Anti-Corruption Policy Paper.  Our prioritized recommendations for areas that the G20 should tackle in 2014 include:  enforcement of international anti-corruption conventions; implementing effective anti-money laundering actions including collecting beneficial ownership information upon incorporation; and adoption and implementation of a global standard on natural resource transparency.

 

         TI-USA Sends Letter to the SEC

In June 2014, TI-USA sent a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission urging the Commission to act rapidly on issuing a revised rule to implement Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Section 1504  requires U.S. listed companies to disclose on a project basis payments around the world related to natural resources extraction. As a member of the U.S. effort to implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, TI-USA urged quick action to support that U.S. effort. A full text of the letter, click here.

 

           

TI-USA’s Civil Society Procurement Monitoring Tool

TI-USA has recently completed the Civil Society Procurement Monitoring (CSPM) Tool, a web-based tool that is meant to support Civil Society Organizations and individuals who are engaged in monitoring public procurement.

The tool’s main component is the Monitoring Assistant, an interactive checklist of common red flags of corruption in public procurement. The tool also includes a case study-based Training Module, a Procurement Monitoring Guide, links to useful resources for procurement monitoring, as well as a Learning Community where users can share their procurement monitoring experiences.  

The tool is currently operational and it is free and open for use.  It can be accessed at this Link

CSPM Tool 1-pager

 

State of Rights Panel: Combatting Corruption

 

Watch TI-USA's Senior Policy Director Shruti Shah’s remarks on corruption and human rights during a September 3rd panel “Government for the People: Combatting Corruption.”  The event was the first in the State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor's discussion series entitled “State of Rights.”  The public diplomacy initiative aims to gather experts and citizens to discuss and debate emerging global issues in an interactive forum.  The September 3rd panel was shown in U.S. embassies around the world and citizens engaged with Shah and the other experts via Twitter.  View the event website, including resource materials and position papers, here.

 

IN FOCUS

Transparency and The Clinton Foundation:  Regarding Recent Statements 

New

 

April 27, 2015

TI-USA issued a press release regarding recent remarks about transparency at The Clinton Foundation.  Click here to see the press release.

 

Conduct by U.S. officials – Closing the Honest Services Loophole

 

March 30, 2015

 

In Skilling v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the federal honest services fraud statute only criminalizes undisclosed self-dealing or the so-called “deprivation of honest services” when the self-dealing involves bribery or kickbacks.  As a result, many forms of undisclosed self-dealing by public officials can no longer be prosecuted under federal law.  For example, a state official who votes to approve a consulting contract without disclosing that she stands to benefit from the transaction because she has an ownership interest in the company chosen can no longer be federally prosecuted.  TI-USA believes that Congress should pass a law making undisclosed self-dealing by public officials illegal, and has proposed language to criminalize such acts, available here.  

 

TI-UK Releases the Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index 2015

April 27, 2015

Transparency International–UK released their Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index 2015, a study that ranks 163 defense companies from 47 countries based on publicly available information relating to their ethics and anti-corruption programs, as well as some internal confidential information provided by 63 of the companies.  Each company is ranked from Band A (best) to Bank F (worst).  As a positive finding, forty-two companies, including six from the U.S., showed significant improvement--by a band or more--since 2012.  In addition, the only four companies in Band A are U.S. companies.  On the other hand, 110 companies in the study, including 25 U.S. companies, were in Bands D, E or F, illustrating that a significant number of defense companies still need to make available basic information about their ethics and anti-corruption programs.  View TI-UK’s press release and index here. 

 

2014 Corruption Perception Index

December 3, 2014

Transparency International released its 20th edition of the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) today, available here which highlights the need for action to combat corruption both in the United States and around the world.  The 2014 CPI ranks 175 countries based on the perceptions of public sector corruption. More than two thirds of the countries ranked in the Index score below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) implying that levels of bribery and corruption in the public sector are still perceived to be very high. The Transparency International-USA press release is here and our blog is here

 

Transparency in Corporate Reporting

November 5 , 2014

 

Transparency International released its second report on Transparency in Corporate Reporting (TRAC 2014).  The report, evaluates 124 publicly-traded companies on the public availability of information about their anti-corruption programs, subsidiaries and affiliates, and country level financial information.  U.S. companies scored relatively well on the availability of information regarding their anti-corruption programs but significantly behind their European counterparts in reporting their corporate organization.   Almost none of the U.S. companies report financial information on a country-by-country basis.

 

TI-USA recently recommended in its report Verification of Anti-Corruption Compliance Programs that companies make public information about their anti-corruption programs to increase transparency and public trust.  TRAC 2014 demonstrates the need for additional public reporting by U.S. companies. More information regarding TRAC 2014 is at click here.

 

TI-USA commends Congress for the Passage of the DATA Act

Fiscal transparency received a serious boost with the passage by Congress of the DATA Act, in April 2014, a law that aims to bring new and unparalleled levels of transparency to federal spending.  Passage of the DATA Act is excellent news, but open government advocates will have to remain vigilant and involved in order to ensure a robust implementation of the Act consistent with its ambitious aims.  Read more.      

 

Former Virginia Governor and Wife Found Guilty of Corruption

 

In what is termed as a sad day for Virginia politics, a Richmond jury convicted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell on 11 of 14 corruption counts on September 4, 2014. His wife Maureen McDonnell was found guilty on nine corruption counts and obstruction of justice. The counts on which the Governor was found guilty include conspiracy to defraud the voters of Virginia of the honest services they were due from the governor’s office.  This case demonstrates that politicians need to adhere to a higher ethical standard that emphasizes all of their constituencies and not just certain ones. It also highlights the need for well drafted and meaningful legislation on gift giving.

 

NEWS

The Daily Corruption News Update is currently on hiatus.  Please check back in June for the latest corruption news stories.