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UNODC presents "Anticorruption Ethics and Compliance Program" to Congress 2016 Ethics Officers Association of Panama

Corruption poses a serious threat to the rule of law and sustainable development worldwide. It has a disproportionate and destructive effect on the most vulnerable populations, while it is harmful to business.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption, the main global instrument against corruption, addresses activities of the private sector. Today, the Convention includes 180 State Parties committed to implement measures to prevent corruption in the private sector, enhance accounting and auditing standards and, when appropriate, apply sanctions for noncompliance.

The Convention also recognizes that states cannot fight corruption alone. Companies have, obviously, a vital role to play as partners for change.

States that negotiated the Convention acknowledged that corruption was no longer a local problem, but a global phenomenon closely related to financial crimes such as money laundering and transnational organized crime.

Indeed, illicit transnational businesses produce vast profits amounting to billions of dollars annually, which must be reintegrated into the legitimate market through money laundering, through the private sector, particularly the banking sector. These funds are reinvested in the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and other transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, smuggling, wildlife and forests crimes, among others.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) encourages authorities to adopt the "follow the money" strategy, since it has been proven that affecting  the finances of organized crime groups is the key to dismantle them. Like any business, if there are no profits, they fail.

The role of the corporate and banking sector is thus essential in the prevention and fight against this phenomenon, and cooperation with governments is essential as it requires union and a frontal attack against criminals.

On another hand, corruption also affects economic growth, distorts competition and has serious legal risks and reputation for companies. It alienates investors, acting as a hidden tax or illegal administrative collection, which consequently increases costs for companies and, ultimately, to its customers.

Corrupt practices are harmful to all large, small, multinational and local companies. Corporate scandals have rocked financial markets and undermined investor confidence. These incidents also receive enormous attention from the public and media, and affect the reputation beyond the entity in question or the people involved.

Demands for greater accountability in the private sector have led many companies, particularly among the largest corporations in the world, to apply principles to guard against corruption and safeguard their corporate image and interests of its investors, workers and customers.

Throughout the years, may international initiatives, standards and principles have been developed to provide guidance to companies on how to fight corruption within its operations as they strengthen ethical standards and compliance.

On 4 October 2016, the Congress of Compliance on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and the Financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction - VI Forum Typology was held in Panama City, by the Panamanian Compliance Officers Association, and was attended by an audience of approximately three hundred (300) participants.

The event was opened by Mrs. Wendie Young, President of ASOCUPA and Mr. Olivier Inizan, Officer in Charge of UNODC. It featured presentations by Mr. Helmut Flores, Mrs. Elizabeth Wheeler, Mrs. Dalys Terán, Mr. Roberto Saavedra, Mr. Edwin Rios, Mr. Antonio Jenkins, Mr. Roberto Barcenas and H.D. Ana Matilde Gómez. From UNODC, Ms. Cristina Ritter presented the topic "Ethics, Creativity and Strategies for Best Practices Compliance Officer".