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Minister Welcomes Anti-Bribery Evaluation Team

Monday 22 May 2006

Minister Welcomes Anti-Bribery Evaluation Team

Venue: The Grand Hall, Parliament
Time: 9am, Monday 22 May 2006

Good Morning. It is my pleasure to extend to you all a very warm welcome to Wellington and New Zealand. Unfortunately my colleague, the Minister of Justice Mark Burton, was unable to be here this morning, but I am pleased to be here in his place in my capacity as Associate Justice Minister.

I know that some of you have come from Europe and Korea while others from Australia. I hope you have had a pleasant journey and that you are looking forward to a busy week ahead evaluating New Zealand for compliance with the Convention Against Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

New Zealand is strongly committed to fighting bribery and corruption in any form – not just in international business transactions. These crimes distort international and domestic business transactions and strain democratic systems and values.

In 1998 New Zealand signed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention for which you are here today.

In 2001 our Crimes Act was amended to insert a new offence of bribing foreign public officials, which allowed us to ratify that Convention.

Some of the other important steps we have taken to combat bribery and corruption include the following:

We have signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which contains Articles criminalizing trans-national corruption and bribery involving criminal groups. Our domestic law reflects these offences

We signed the UN Convention Against Corruption at the initial signing ceremony in Mexico in 2003. We are now taking legislative steps in order to ratify that Convention, although, for the most part, we are already largely compliant with that Convention.

We are in the process of examining the Asian Development Bank’s Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific with a view to endorsing the three broad Pillars of Action to fight corruption

Our fight against bribery and corruption is not, however, limited to criminalizing such behaviour. The Government introduced an important Bill last year which, when passed, will permit law enforcement agencies to confiscate illicit assets from individuals who benefit from bribery and corruption.

The Criminal Proceeds and Instruments Bill when passed will be an important tool to combat those who are corrupt and will permit confiscation orders without the need for a criminal conviction.

Bribery and corruption are also closely linked to money laundering. We already have strong anti-money laundering laws and mechanisms in place to detect and report illicit transactions involving funds generated from bribery.

The Government has established a special project group in the Ministry of Justice to implement the new 2003 Financial Action Task Force Recommendations on Money Laundering.

It is important that if financial institutions are asked to accept such illicit funds, that they are guided by robust laws and strict mechanisms to detect and report these suspicious transactions in order to deter money laundering.

These and many other steps we have taken reflect our strong commitment to ensure that this country remains relatively free of the kinds of corrupt behaviour that taints other countries.

Although there is so far no evidence that New Zealand has had issues with bribery of foreign public officials, we are conscious of the need to be vigilant and to seek to ensure that neither bribery nor corruption becomes a feature of our domestic or international trading.

You have important work ahead of you but while you are here I encourage you to explore our capital city.

So, again, welcome to Wellington. I wish you the best in your evaluation and I look forward to reading your report once completed.

Thank you.


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