10th March 2020 - Cairo, Egypt
Corruption is a complex social, political, and economic phenomenon that affects all countries. Some of the main forms of corruption are bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, embezzlement and illicit enrichment. Corruption could take place in the governmental, social, and private spheres. In a project funded under the Third Funding Round of the Siemens Integrity Initiative, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will focus on the private sector over four years to “Strengthen the Private Sector Capacity to Prevent Corruption and Enhance Integrity in the Arab Countries.”
The project works with several countries in the region, including Egypt, Iraq, Libya, United Arab Emirates (UAE) to introduce legislative improvements to combatting corruption in the private sector; improve communication between the public and private sectors by providing a common venue for further interaction, dialogue and knowledge sharing; and provide guidance to companies and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to develop their anti-corruption code of ethics and compliance programmes.
The first activity under the project was a workshop that took place at the National Anti-Corruption Academy under the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) and targeted SMEs. The workshop aimed at identifying what is corruption and how it takes place within the public and private sectors, discussing the private sector’s role in preventing corruption, and explaining the existing international standards for financial governance and protection of human rights. The workshop brought a wide range of private sector companies together, such as telecom, medical care, trade and investment and petroleum engineering. The participants hold relevant positions in their companies such as compliance, legal review, monitoring and evaluation, international and external fraud units, strategic planning and auditing.
The workshop’s subjects analyzed how corruption could take place inside a company and the supply chain structure and on a wider scale with competitors and the concerned market. They were able to view why it is important to address corruption as it affects production, creativity, investment levels, corporate reputation, and halts development. Furthermore, they discussed the necessary internal role of developing standards and procedures designed to safeguard integrity and prevent corruption, external role of ensuring compliance procedures and controls for suppliers, distributors and business partners, and the joint role of starting joint activities with other stakeholders to fight corruption.
ACA and UNODC experts informed the participants of national and international legal and policy background to the issue. The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. The Convention's far-reaching approach and the mandatory character of many of its provisions make it a unique tool for developing a comprehensive response to a global problem.
A Key background on Egyptian anti-corruption efforts was provided to put their knowledge in a setting-based perspective. Egypt ratified the UNCAC in February 2005 and adopted its second National Anti-Corruption Strategy in 2018 which has a focus on enhancing integrity and combatting corruption in the private sector as one of the ten main objectives of the Strategy. The ACA is the focal point for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Strategy. Through the workshop and other activities, ACA works with UNODC and the Siemens Integrity Initiative on enhancing public-private sector dialogue and on assisting companies to develop compliance programmes.
The participants related the subjects to their day to day work and asked questions on how the national efforts for big data could help address corruption and open areas for private sector development, what are the possible links between corruption and financial inclusion and the shadow economy, what is the effect of corruption in the private sector on society and the economy, and how could corruption affect investment.