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UNODC chief blames shady trade on financial crisis

afrol News, 10 November - The United Nations crime tsar, yesterday blamed shady trading for the financial crisis that rocked most of the world last year, urging governments to use an international anti-corruption treaty to outline measures to restore trust in the financial system.

The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) criticised governments for allowing the financial system lose control, as well as financiers and corporate tycoons for turning their transactions into a free-for-all game.

Speaking at the opening of a week-long meeting in Qatar of the UN Convention against Corruption, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa urged all States to recognise a silver lining to the crisis by using the UN anti-corruption treaty as “a blueprint for restoring confidence in markets, businesses, and governments.”

The 2005 Convention, which has 141 States Parties and is overseen by UNODC, contains protective measures that apply to dealings in the public and private sectors. “Corruption is preventable, not a fact of life, or part of business,” said Mr Costa.

One of the main issues under discussion at the Third Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention in Doha is the creation of a mechanism to review implementation of the treaty.

“At the moment, corruption is in the eye of the beholder – there is no way to measure it,” said Mr Costa.

A review mechanism would enable States to analyse the effectiveness of its fight against corruption and identify where more progress is needed.

“It must be a technical inter-governmental review to measure progress, not a game of name and shame,” said Mr Costa, calling on States to “seal the deal” on the review mechanism by the end of the meeting on Friday.

Meanwhile, the UN has said political corruption costs governments about $1.6tn (£951bn) every year.

The money is lost in public assets moved across borders via money-laundering or undeclared holdings, according to the body.

The figure comes as the UN, World Bank and other watchdog meet in Doha, Qatar, to try to give a four-year-old anti-corruption agreement some teeth.

But hopes are low of countries agreeing to independent reviews into countries' finances to look for missing money.

Countries such as China, Iran and Russia are resisting such measures.

Two previous summits have failed to expand the powers of the UN's anti-corruption convention.

"We hope to have a commitment to action," said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister who is now managing director of the World Bank. "We've had a lot of talk. Now we'd like to see some action."

There is also disagreement over how best to implement the tracking of money, because of tax havens and secretive banking codes in some nations.

The Conference of States Parties is being attended by over 1,000 delegates from 125 countries, as well as representatives of civil society, international organisations, parliaments, the media and the private sector.

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