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Responses to public sector corruption


The different ways in which States respond to corruption are addressed in detail in Module 6 and Module 13 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption. For present purposes, it is emphasized that a major response in combating corruption is the adoption of criminal anti-corruption norms, together with the enforcement of these norms through effective sanctions and incentives. UNCAC and regional and national legal frameworks establish criminal anti-corruption norms that apply to both the public and private sectors. For example, UNCAC defines the crimes of bribery and embezzlement, as well as the related offences of concealing these crimes, laundering their proceeds, and obstructing justice for them. The enforcement of these norms and particularly their detection and investigation are discussed in Module 6 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption.

In the area of public procurement, an additional way of addressing corruption is to exclude corrupt contractors from accessing government contracts, and is referred to as debarment or blacklisting. This method essentially bars contractors who have been convicted of certain breaches of law or ethics from bidding on government contracts for a specified period of time (Williams-Elegbe, 2012). This tool is widely used to address procurement corruption, and it is required in the multilateral development banks and jurisdictions such as the European Union, the United States, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and several other countries. Given its application to the private sector companies that supply goods and services to governments, this mechanism is addressed in further detail in Module 5 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption.

The public sectors in many countries include an anti-corruption agency, mandated to address corruption in and beyond the public sector. Anti-corruption agencies address corruption through a range of functions from detection to investigation and prosecution. In some jurisdictions, they also perform regulatory, oversight and policy development functions. A more detailed discussion on anti-corruption agencies is available in Module 13 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption. Information on the budget, functions and other aspects of anti-corruption bodies is also available in this World Bank portal.

Finally, an important response to corruption, especially when committed on a large scale, is asset recovery. According to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a partnership between the World Bank and UNODC, (StAR, 2009), an estimated 20 to 40 billion dollars are stolen annually from developing countries through bribery, misappropriation of funds and other corrupt practices. Asset recovery is the process used by States to forfeit and return stolen public funds. There are several ways in which national authorities can pursue stolen assets. Some approaches are through criminal or non-conviction-based confiscation, through proceedings of foreign jurisdiction and through private civil action. A more detailed discussion on asset recovery is available in Module 12 of the E4J University Module Series on Anti-Corruption.

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