Council of Europe
On 15 May, the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunity and Institutional Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly took sanctions against Pedro Agramunt, Cezar Florin Preda, Jordi Xuclà and Samad Seyidov – 4 members of the Parliamentary Assembly – on corruption charges for the benefit of Azerbaijan, in the “caviargate” affair. Pedro Agramunt was President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) until 6 October 2017. The representatives are temporarily deprived from several rights but still exercise their mandate.
On 22 May, the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy of the PACE published a declaration on the establishment of an academic network on Council of Europe conventions against corruption. The network aims at enhancing knowledge sharing and awarding more scholarships and innovation in the fight against corruption.
In its 18th general activity report, released on 3 May, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) – the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body – reviewed a dark year on the fight against corruption. Greece, Romania and Poland were specifically targeted.
On 17 May, the GRECO made public the evaluation report of the fifth evaluation round for the United Kingdom. It covers corruption prevention and promotion of integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies. The Group notably called on the authorities to strengthen transparency on lobbying activities towards the government.
On 22 May, the GRECO published the compliance report on the fourth evaluation round for Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Group concluded that the country had implemented none of the 15 recommendations from the evaluation report. It indicated that “timid steps timid steps have been made by Parliament to strengthen its integrity system”.
International Monetary Fund
In an interview given to The Guardian, on 4 May, Christine Lagarde, the President of the International Monetary Fund, called for the improvement of anti-corruption measures in order to increase confidence in public institutions. According to her, priority must be given to enhancing transparency, especially in the use of public funds. In that perspective, new technologies constitute an opportunity to be seized.
African Development Bank
On 7 May, the African Development Bank decided a three-year debarment for the Chinese company CHINT Electric.Co for fraudulent practices. The company was sanctioned for releasing false information relating to its experience and to other conditions of certification in order to take part in tenders partly funded by the institution. The sanction also applies to projects financed by the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group. The duration of the suspension could be reduced in case of good cooperation with the Bank fraud office.
The 8th Commonwealth Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa took place in Nigeria between 14 and 18 May. Opened by a speech delivered by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, this event aimed at exchanging ideas and good practices to tackle corruption.
On 22 May, the European Parliament published a video in which it recalled its commitment to enhance the EU transparency register as part of the current negotiations on a new inter-institutional agreement between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission. While the existing register is voluntary and only covers the Commission and the Parliament, these negotiations seek to make it mandatory and to extend it to the Council.
On 17 May, the European Ombudsman published its activity report for 2017. Citizens’ participation and their access to the European Union decision-making process was one of Emily O’Reilly’s priorities. She notably welcomed the fact that the Commission uses the guide for EU officials on the “DOs and DON’Ts” of dealing with lobbyists that was drafted by her services.
Mrs. O’Reilly also sent, on 17 May, a special report to the European Parliament on her inquiry to improve the accountability of the legislative work of the Council. This report followed the unanswered recommendations previously addressed to the Council. The Ombudsman asked for the support of the Parliament in order to increase the transparency on national governments activities in Brussels.
On the occasion of the 18th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations’ Convention against Corruption, on 23 May, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterres, recalled that corruption is a global phenomenon that affects both developed and developing countries. Mentioning impunity as “corrosive”, he insisted on the UN’s crucial role, notably in supporting Member States in their efforts to fight against corruption.
Open Government Partnership
On 22 May, the Open Government Network for Europe was launched in Brussels by the Open Government Partnership and the Democratic Society. This project aims to gather the “champions” working on transparency and citizens’ involvement across Europe. Open to practitioners from inside and outside the European institutions, the network will ease the exchange of good practices on open Government.