4
dec
2018
Luxembourg, Luxembourg

Last week, the EIB hosted experts and interested participants from around the world at the third Anti-Corruption Conference, to mark International Anti-Corruption Day. Around 200 participants including EIB staff, representatives of Civil Society Organisations, the European Commission, National and International Financing Institutions, as well as national anti-corruption authorities, gathered to reflect on and discuss cooperation challenges in the fight against corruption.

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Vice-President Dario Scannapieco opened the conference, noting that as an EU institution and a public bank, addressing corruption risk is a key task of the EIB.  The Bank will not ‘lend at any cost’ and has a zero tolerance policy on fraud, corruption and all other forms of prohibited conduct. He also stressed that a single player cannot win the fight against corruption, and building strong partnerships throughout and beyond Europe is a key step in facing this difficult task.

Inspector General Jan Willem van der Kaaij, who introduced the speakers, stressed that the Bank had invested heavily in establishing an independent investigation office (Fraud Investigations Division), focusing its attention on integrity and governance issues to mitigate the risks associated with fraud and corruption. Staffed by trained and experienced investigators and former prosecutors, the Fraud Investigations Division has the necessary expertise to professionally investigate allegations of corruption and to coordinate with national and international investigation, anti-corruption and prosecution offices.

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From left to right: Hakan Lucius, Head of Civil Society and Corporate Responsibility Division – VP Dario Scannapieco – Jan Willem Van der Kaaij, Inspector General – Bernie O’Donnell, Head of Fraud Investigations Division ©EIB

Renaud van Ruymbeke, chief investigative judge at the High Court in Paris, presented an overview of current cooperation challenges in the fight against corruption.  In particular, he recalled the challenges related to the independence of Judiciary systems in some countries, and to investigating funds routed through offshore centres and tax havens. Mr. van Ruymbeke stressed the importance of checks and transparency at final beneficiary’s level. He also gave an overview of important developments in fighting corruption, while giving a very interesting overview of several high profile investigation cases.
 

 The first panel brought together anti-corruption experts from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank (WB), the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and a former EIB’s investigator (and former national financial investigator).  This panel, chaired by Bernie O’Donnell (Head of EIB’s Fraud Investigations Division) and Hakan Lucius ( Head of EIB’s Corporate, Social responsibility and Civil Society Division), discussed international cooperation in the context of corruption cases investigated by these organisations.

The panellists offered real life success stories on joint investigations. Specific issues discussed included:

  • the importance of trust and information exchange among International Financial Institutions to address corruption
  • the value of joint investigative activities between the different financial institutions
  • the need to coordinate on the negotiation of settlements involving the same company
  • the possibility of conducting joint preventive activities

Examples of very fruitful cooperation with the Bank's Fraud Investigation Division were presented by the EBRD and the AFD.

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The second panel, chaired by Head of Unit for Investigations in EIB’s Fraud Investigations Division Marco Loretti, focussed on investigative cooperation between national and international agencies. Representatives from OLAF (the European Anti-Fraud Office), the Malawian anticorruption bureau, along with the Italian and French anticorruption agencies discussed the challenges of investigating multi-jurisdictional cases of corruption.

One example of successful cooperation between national and international agencies was given by the Director of Malawi’s Anticorruption Bureau, who made the following observations: “Why do we need cooperation? [...] cooperation facilitates the search for and sharing of evidence… it reduces the cost of prosecution and investigation… this strengthens the recovery and storing of assets and facilitates the exchange of expertise and experience...

" They knew they could not influence the EIB, and we look forward to continuing the cooperation in this regard."

OLAF and the Italian Anti-corruption agency both stressed the importance of signing Memoranda of Understanding to facilitate the exchange of information and to perform joint investigations. Furthermore, the idea of a European anticorruption agency was expressed by the , Director of the French Anticorruption agency.

The third and final panel was on Proactive Integrity Reviews, the new area of investigative cooperation. Three international institutions presented different approaches on the proactive side: the Global Fund, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. The discussion, chaired by Coordinator for Proactive Integrity Reviews in EIB’s Fraud Investigations Division, Dominik Adamski, highlighted the importance of this proactive review/investigation work in mitigating the risk of corruption and other forms of prohibited conduct in cases that would otherwise continue undetected and unreported.

The concluding stages of the conference included an overview by Hakan Lucius of the key observations made by the different presenters throughout the day. These included:

  • the importance of trust and effective coordination between investigating offices
  • the challenges presented by a lack of resources available to investigate
  • the variety of different legal frameworks across the many countries where corruption cases may arise.

Hakan emphasised the role that civil society and the press could play in finding and reporting cases of possible corruption.

In closing the conference, Bernie O’Donnell thanked the panellists who travelled from partner organisations in Washington, New York, Paris, London, Manilla, Brussels, Geneva, Rome and Lilongwe to give such thought-provoking and relevant presentations

Bernie noted the increased number of EIB colleagues attending this year’s conference, which shows the interest within the Bank on the topic of corruption and the risk that corruption presents.  The increased number of presenters is also positive because it shows the support of our key allies in the fight against corruption.