Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has outlined her vision to fight
corruption in the Commonwealth at the opening of the 8th Commonwealth
Conference of Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa in Abuja.
“Globally, we are facing a tsunami of corruption. In 2015, UNODC estimated
that the amount of money laundered globally each year is 2 to 5 per cent
of global domestic product or between 800 billion and USD 200 trillion,”
said Secretary-General Scotland. “It is estimated that corruption costs
the African continent over USD 148 billion per annum.
“You, the heads of anti-corruption agencies, will be seeking to meet this
challenge. You are leading the fight against this Tsunami. You are the
early warning mechanisms, the rapid responders, mobilisers, you put in
place necessary, critical measures that enable us to build back better.”
The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Partnering towards assets
recovery and its return’, and the Secretary-General highlighted the
challenges facing member states.
“I would like to share a few of the inspiring stories on how you on the
continent are beginning to win the battle against corruption,” continued
the Secretary-General. “Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic
Crime is currently investigating 26 suspects who are accused of money
laundering and fraud to the tune over 300 million pula, which is
equivalent to USD 85 million.
“The Asset Recovery Unit of Uganda’s Inspectorate of Government is
currently investigating three cases to the value of USD 5 million dollars.
In Mauritius, the Asset Recovery Investigation Division is pursuing
criminal proceedings in a case that is valued at about half a billion
“South Africa’s Special Investigations Unit which, between 2015 and now,
has recovered assets or prevented fraud equivalent to 13 billion rand
which is just over USD 1 billion dollars. Here in Nigeria, over USD 3
billion dollars of ill-gotten gains have been recovered.
“I would like to put on record my deepest admiration and gratitude for all
anti-corruption agencies gathered here today, including those at the
forefront of cases I have just highlighted.”
Secretary-General Scotland said the Commonwealth owed ‘immense gratitude’
for the wisdom and leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria.
The Secretary-General also encouraged delegates to read last month’s
Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) communique which resolved to
tackle corruption, illicit financial flows, money laundering and terrorist
financing by intra-Commonwealth cooperation. She also urged them to study
the newly launched Commonwealth Innovation Hub and make best use of the
Commonwealth Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform (OCCJR).
“The Office is currently working with the British Standards Institute and
the Global Infrastructure Anti-Corruption Centre on a package of
Commonwealth Integrity benchmarks.
“The plan is for the benchmarks package to include a summary of
requirements for key anti-corruption standards and commitments, with
Commonwealth examples of good practice on implementation and enforcement,”
said the Secretary-General. “Initial elements of the package will be
presented during this conference, and feedback and recommendations from
participants will be most valuable.
“I believe that the development and roll-out of a Commonwealth Integrity
Index will act as a further weapon in our armoury to tackle this global
tsunami. By doing so, we truly are working and acting towards the goal
which I have so often enunciated.”
Secretary-General Scotland said that there would be a formal process of
consultation with member countries to take all views into account. She
anticipated that the benchmarks package could be presented for adoption in
Rwanda at CHOGM 2020.