Following a tendering process, the European Commission has awarded global asset manager BlackRock the contract for helping it incorporate ESG-related factors into banking supervision. Given that BlackRock is one of the top three investors in the world’s eight largest oil companies and one of the top ten investors in the world’s 12 largest banks, there are concerns about a major conflict of interests. (Le Point, 14 April 2020; The Guardian, 12 April 2020)
Also within the European Union (EU), Italian politician Federica Mogherini, formerly the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (2014-2019), is in the running for the position of Rector of the College of Europe, a role previously only held by professors. With two campuses, one in Bruges (Belgium) and the other in Natolin (Poland), the College is overseen by a Rector appointed by an Administrative Council, after securing the agreement of the Academic Council on which the professors sit. With the second term in office of the current Rector, German Professor Jörg Monar, soon due to end, a call for applications was launched a year ago. The potential appointment of Federica Mogherini, backed by Ursula von der Leyen, current President of the Commission (which provides up to 50% of the College’s funding, at an estimated €12m a year), has drawn widespread criticism. Some accuse Federica Mogherini of having no competence for the job (she has neither a doctorate nor academic experience), while others are concerned about a conflict of interests in light of her networks in the EU executive. What’s more, the EU’s Independent Ethical Committee has asked that she not be involved in applications for European grants. (Libération, 26 April 2020; The Parliament Magazine, 6 May 2020)
Council of Europe
The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published guidelines for the attention of its 50 member states, aimed at preventing corruption amid the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Issued by GRECO’s President, Marin Mrčela, these guidelines stress that the Covid-19 outbreak is exacerbating the risks of corruption, especially in the health sector, primarily owing to the urgent need for medical supplies, the simplification of procurement rules, overcrowded medical facilities and overburdened health workers.
Financial Action Task Force
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has also published a statement outlining the other risks of fraud such as embezzlement and counterfeit medicines, associated with the Covid-19 crisis.
International Federation of Association Football (FIFA)
A police report contends that the « mismanagement » allegations against Sepp Blatter, « were well founded » even if the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) has decided to drop one of the two investigations against the former President of Fifa. This investigation bears on Blatter’s signature, in 2005, of a « contract penalising Fifa », in which the 2010 and 2014 World Cup TV rights were awarded at a fraction of their true value to the Caribbean Football Union. At the time, this Union was headed up by Trinidad-and-Tobago national Jack Warner, whom Fifa has banned for life and the US Department of Justice has indicted over corruption claims. (La Croix, 29 April 2020; The Guardian, 30 April 2020)