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Time for Action on Corruption in New Zealand says Watchdog

PRESS RELEASE: Time for Action on Corruption in New Zealand says Watchdog

Transparency International New Zealand
Wellington New Zealand
26 March, 2012

Transparency International New Zealand Inc. strongly supports Anthony Hubbard's call for New Zealand to ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption and shares his concern about complacency.

Transparency International New Zealand's Chairperson Suzanne Snively notes that New Zealand is one of the few OECD countries not to have ratified UNCAC:
"Successive New Zealand governments have swept the issue of UN Convention against Corruption ratification under the mat for almost a decade. The result is that New Zealand law lacks adequate alignment with international standards and carries only weak penalties for those convicted of bribery in the private sector. "

Writing in the Sunday Star Times (edition 25 March 2012, page A16), Hubbard identifies the worrying political and public complacency about corruption in New Zealand. As Hubbard says, "New Zealand's failure to ratify the UN Convention (despite signing it back in 2003) is an embarrassment for a country that prides itself on its 'clean' international image. More than that, however, it is bad for NZ business."

Our neighbours across the Tasman are several steps ahead of us in this regard. Australia's Foreign Affairs and Trade Department's website states that the Australian government's support of ethical business practice and the prosecution of those involved in corruption "helps to improve Australia's investment opportunities overseas and is an important aspect of Australia's global reputation".

The Australians, who ratified the UN Convention in 2005, see corruption as skewing competition, inhibiting business growth and ultimately shrinking the global market for Australian exports and investments.

Protecting its global markets is also important for New Zealand. Suzanne Snively explains that:

With exports of NZ$46 billion in 2011, New Zealand has real reason to commit to a corruption-free world - and to demonstrate this commitment to our trading partners. Ratifying the UN Convention against Corruption would go a considerable way to preserving New Zealand's global reputation as a good country with which to do business and would be an important signal to New Zealand companies who operate in countries with endemic corruption.

For the sake of our international reputation - and our economy - Transparency International New Zealand believes it's now past time for ratification to be made a political priority, as well as a priority for New Zealand business. Suzanne Snively comments:

Transparency International New Zealand's own research shows that the majority of NZX50 companies do not have policies in place that prohibit bribery by staff. This shows that it is both Government and business that is lagging behind most other OECD countries.

2. Transparency International New Zealand website: http://www.transparencynz.org.nz/. Direct link to As Good As We Are Perceived report: http://www.transparencynz.org.nz/index.php/indices-reports/new-zealand/report-qas-good-as-we-are-perceivedq

3. Transparency International is a global civil society coalition leading the fight against corruption. It compiles a number of measures of different aspects of corruption including the Corruption Perceptions Index, the Global Corruption Barometer, and the Bribe Payers Index. Information on Transparency International can be found at www.transparency.org.

4 Sunday Star Times edition 25 March 2012, page A16

5. Information on the UN Convention Against Corruption can be found at http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/

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