Will countries step up to agree ambitious new global standards on beneficial ownership?

Shining a light on those who own and control corporate legal entities can disrupt and deter corruption. The UNGASS in June 2021 is an opportunity to set ambitious standards to tackle impunity.

The real beneficiaries of companies, trusts and financial flows are too often impossible to discover. Illustration: jumpingsack/Shutterstock.com Copyrighted.

Written by
Sophie Lemaître — Senior Adviser, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at Chr. Michelsen Institute.

The United Nations will hold a special session of the General Assembly against corruption (UNGASS), on 2–4 June 2021. To inform the ongoing negotiations around a political declaration on corruption, Transparency International launched a petition in December 2020. The petition, submitted to UNGASS on 24 February 2021, called for “an end to the abuse of anonymous companies and other legal vehicles that facilitate cross-border corruption and other crimes.”

The FACTI Panel recommends establishing a global standard on beneficial ownership.

The signatories — over 700 in…

On the 110th International Women’s Day the theme is #ChooseToChallenge. This is a timely one, given the negative and disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women.

It is vitally important that pandemic response plans are updated and revised to incorporate both gender and anti-corruption considerations (Photo: Freepik, Copyright)

Written by

Monica Kirya — Senior Adviser at U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and a lawyer specialising in governance and development. Kirya leads U4’s work on public service delivery and gender.


Matthew Gichohi — Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Comparative Politics at the University of Bergen, Norway. His research focuses on questions of identity and the attitudinal/behavioral norms it elicits in individuals seeking political inclusion and representation. …

Rwanda is often presented as a success story for managing to reduce petty bribery in society. Yet, examining how in the capital, Kigali’s motorcycle taxi drivers deal with corrupt security officers and police officers reveals a more nuanced reality. Considering how anti-corruption policies are used by street-level officers provides a good opportunity to better understand the governance of the State and how policies are applied and transformed in practice. Such analysis may also show the way to bridging this implementation gap.

Two motorcycles cross a busy intersection in Kigali, Rwanda
Two motorcycles cross a busy intersection in Kigali, Rwanda
A social diagnosis can improve our understanding of why corrupt practices have increased. It can inform actions to correct the situation — for example through new codes of conduct and reduced fines. Photo: istock.com/Sloot Copyrighted

Written by
Guillaume Nicaise
Senior Adviser, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre at CMI

Petty corruption not recognised

In the everyday reality of taxi…

Donor agencies seem to be stuck in a failing model for tackling corruption. Why don’t they change? A new U4 Issue argues that the problem lies as much in how donors work as it is does in what they are trying to do. It suggests pathways to address this. Key ideas are the need to recognise the political dimensions of corruption; the need to coordinate better; and the importance of recognising and confronting the internal contradictions of donors’ own practices.

Donors use the same standard procedures to tackle corruption as for everything else, despite the burgeoning evidence on how ill-suited these usually are. Photo: iStock.com/francescoch Copyrighted

Written by
Phil Mason OBE
— Former senior anti-corruption specialist in DFID from 2000 until March 2019. …

Donors and other funders are investing vast sums in interventions to mitigate climate change and help adapt to its consequences. Yet corruption within climate finance means goals may not be achieved. The countries that receive the most finance also tend to be those that are at higher risk for corrupt practices. A way forward involves developing appropriate and effective anti-corruption tools and strategies. There is also a need to focus anti-corruption efforts on renewable energy, low carbon transport, and energy efficiency.

There are in-built risks for corruption in climate change interventions. This is because of the nature of mitigation and adaption projects, which are often very large.(Photo: Karsten Würth)

Written by Michael Nest — Independent consultant on governance, accountability, and transparency issues. Saul Mullard — Senior Adviser, U4…

Indonesia has a wealth of natural resources. Yet few local people benefit — not least because of widespread corruption. Over the past five years, the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has stepped up efforts to address the problem. Yet KPK’s focus tends to be on field operators and public officials rather than beneficial owners and corporations. Future strategies for KPK should include attention to governance, especially around licensing, supervision, and the enforcement of laws. It must also focus more on large businesses and pursuing the proceeds of illegally obtained licenses.

Even following prosecution, courts may fail to cancel permits to exploit natural resources gained as a result of bribery. (Photo: Agung Prasetyo/CIFOR CC BY-NC-ND)

Written by Laode M. Syarif,* Executive Director of KEMITRAAN and…

The risks of corruption in humanitarian response can be reduced by aid organisations being answerable to their beneficiaries (‘downward accountability’). Interventions may also be more efficient and effective with measures in place to help recipients feedback to — and get a response from — aid providers. In a new U4 Brief, researchers use a helpline and call centre set up for refugees by UNHCR Uganda to explore lessons around this idea. This blog highlights some key findings from the study. …

Haiti’s justice system seldom prosecutes abuse of power by high-level political and economic elites. Problems include that prosecutors can be arbitrarily appointed and removed, so may be open to improper influence. They have no fixed-term mandate and also lack training to prosecute financial crimes. A way forward includes better case management and training. Civil society monitoring, enabled by improved transparency, also has an important role to play.

Palais de Justice D’Aquin (the Court of Aquin). If the fight against financial crimes in Haiti is to be effective, it is essential to reduce corruption risks within the prosecution system. (Photo: Marianne Toraasen)

Written by
Christina Levelt, Consultant, Organization of American States

In Haiti, the largest French-speaking country of the Caribbean, barriers to access justice are numerous and common. Likewise, there are frequent hurdles to be…

Judicial vetting in Albania — an assessment of the country’s judges and prosecutors for assets, background, and proficiency — is a radical measure. Yet it was deemed both appropriate and necessary given high levels of judicial corruption. In this blog I discuss how the decision came about to start the vetting process, along with some results and challenges. Finally, I make some key recommendations for how the vetting process can be completed successfully.

The Supreme Court in Tirana, Albania. Judicial vetting has resulted in just under two-thirds of magistrates resigning or being removed from office so far. (Photo: Jaap Broekema–Copyrighted)

Written by
Endri MykajLLM, MSc, International Monitoring Operation, Judicial Vetting in Albania (EU Funded Project).

The following represents the author’s personal views and opinion


De nombreux pays perçoivent d’importantes sommes d’argent auprès d’entreprises pour qu’ils mettent fin aux poursuites dans des affaires de corruption internationale. Ces pays — généralement développés et riches — ne sont pas tenus d’utiliser les amendes perçues dans l’intérêt général. Ils n’ont pas non plus l’obligation de les utiliser pour lutter contre la corruption ni de les restituer aux citoyens des pays en développement victimes de pratiques illicites. Pour aller vers une plus grande justice, il faudrait utiliser ces amendes dans l’intérêt général et mettre en place un mécanisme de réparation.

La résolution d’une affaire de corruption internationale / blanchiment d’argent doit inclure une réparation au profit des citoyens qui souffrent des pratiques de corruption. Les fonds récupérés pourraient, par exemple, être transférés au Programme alimentaire mondial. (Photo: USAFRICOM CC-BY)

Ecrit par Sophie Lemaître, Senior Adviser au sein de…

U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

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