Global Engagement Against Corruption: IFAC al the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9)

December 20, 2021

Published: IFAC

OECD Anti-Bribery Recommendation

IFAC has been engaged with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and its Anti-Bribery Working Group as part of a multi-year review of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Recommendation (ABR). The ABR, originally published in 2009, serves as implementation guidance for the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Entering into force in 1999, the Anti-Bribery Convention establishes legally binding standards to criminalize bribery and has been implemented by all 38 OECD members plus 6 major non-OECD countries. The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention serves as an additional layer on top of the UNCAC’s global baseline. 

IFAC’s engagement in the ABR review focused on the importance of professional bodies and enforcement of ethical codes in fighting corruption and was facilitated by our strong relationship with Business at OECD, the officially recognized business voice to the OECD. Our key points are summarized in a comment letter submitted in the final rounds of the review (August 2021). The result was direct impact on the final instrument as adopted earlier in December 2021. Specifically, IFAC’s advocacy delivered the following text in the revised ABR:

Professional associations that exercise regulatory powers over certain professions may also play a significant role in adopting and implementing robust ethics standards for their members, including by setting out frameworks on actions to be taken by their members to prevent bribery or when confronted with suspected acts of foreign bribery and related offences committed by clients or employers.

This recognition of the importance of professional bodies and ethical standards is a significant contribution to the global debate surrounding the role of the accountancy profession with respect to global integrity issues—not just bribery, but also corruption more broadly, money laundering, and other financial crimes. 

Broader Global Engagement

IFAC’s recent global engagement goes beyond the UN and OECD to cover the full spectrum of integrity topics. IFAC has been closely engaged with the Financial Action Task Force (the FATF, the global anti-money laundering standard setter), on key issues such as beneficial ownership transparency (see comment letters dated August 2021 and November 2021, as well as the 2020 IFAC-CPA Canada Report) and the responsibilities of international accountancy networks for centralized AML compliance processes. 

This engagement is complemented by IFAC’s educational series on anti-money laundering, produced in partnership with ICAEW, which helps bring to life the FATF’s Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach for the Accounting Profession. In 2022, IFAC and ICAEW look to further build on the AML education series with additional installments to further assistance professional accountants as AML risks continue to evolve. 

In 2021, IFAC accelerated its engagement with the World Economic Forum (WEF) Partnership Against Corruption Initiative (PACI). The WEF PACI is a CEO-led platform with approximately 90 signatories from different sectors across the globe, serving as a leading business voice on anti-corruption and transparency.  One of the key achievements of the WEF PACI was the publication of its Unifying Framework for Gatekeepers.  The Unifying Framework—which IFAC has endorsed—looks to bring all “gatekeeper” professions up to a common level of integrity, transparency and accountability. For IFAC, this means bringing all gatekeepers up to the ethical bar established by the IESBA Code.

All of this global engagement builds off of IFAC’s Point of Views on Fighting Corruption and Money Laundering and Greater Transparency and Accountability in the Public Sector, now available in Arabic, French, Spanish and Russian.  Our work on global integrity issues parallels IFAC’s continued support for Public Financial Management as reflected by the International Public Sector Financial Accountability Index, as well as our support for the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), as seen in our recent Train the Trainer: Introduction to IPSAS package of training materials.

Looking Ahead to 2022

As a final example of our engagement in critical global integrity issues, IFAC continued its long-standing leadership role in the Business 20 (B20, the official business engagement forum for the G20) as a Network Partner of the Integrity & Compliance Taskforce under the 2021 Italian Presidency. The Integrity & Compliance Task Force addresses important issues like public sector integrity, corporate reporting related to societal and governance issues, beneficial ownership transparency, and whistleblower protection. IFAC looks to build on this engagement in 2022 under the Indonesian Presidency. IFAC also speaks directly to the G20 through our annual G20 Call to Action

Global integrity issues will continue to be a focus for IFAC going forward, particularly as the interconnection between corruption, money laundering, and other integrity crimes on the one hand, and sustainability, climate change and the environment on the other, becomes increasingly evident. 

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