PILON Corruption Working Group Meeting, September 2019Website Administrator
10 – 11 September 2019, Nadi, Fiji
The Corruption Working Group met for a two days in Nadi, Fiji to deliberate and finalise the group’s work on a report on prosecuting corruption in the Pacific region. Members collated the results of a survey the Working Group conducted amongst prosecutors in the region on their experiences and challenges faced in prosecuting corruption.
The objective of the report is to provide a baseline understanding of regional experiences and challenges in prosecuting corruption and to identify technical assistance needs. Secondly, the report seeks to facilitate information sharing amongst prosecutors by highlighting successful cases of corruption that have been prosecuted across the region, including cases involving bribery, embezzlement and money laundering.
Corruption and financial crime have become increasingly transnational and sophisticated as a result of the internet and other technological advances. This has made corruption more difficult to prosecute.
Over past decade, the majority of PILON Member Countries have signed up to key international and regional anti-corruption instruments. The UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) contains the most comprehensive requirements relating to the criminalization of key corruption offences. Chapter III of UNCAC requires States to establish criminal and other offences to cover corrupt acts in their domestic law.
Between 2010 and 2015, about two thirds of PILON Member Countries reviewed the establishment of these offences in their domestic law. These reviews found that the following offences were generally criminalized in these countries with some limitations.
The offences are:
- Bribery of national public officials
- Embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion of property by a public official
- Embezzlement in the private sector
- Laundering of proceeds of proceeds of crime
In contrast, illicit enrichment, bribery of foreign officials and bribery in the private sector have not been criminalised by the majority of PILON member countries reviewed.
The implementation of offences relating to trading in influence and abuse of functions varied across the countries reviewed – these offences were partially criminalised but often contained significant gaps.
The findings suggested that for most PILON member countries, key corruption offences such as bribery in the public sector, embezzlement and money laundering have been criminalised in domestic law suggesting that the legal basis for prosecution is already in place.
However, the survey of Pacific prosecutors found that there was a wide variation in the number of corruption cases being prosecuted. While 3 out of the 13 countries who responded to the survey had prosecuted more than 20 corruption related offences in the past 5 years, 4 countries had not prosecuted any corruption related offences and another 4 countries had prosecuted less than 5 cases in the same period.
The survey responses indicate that insufficient evidence, lack of witness cooperation and underlying issues associated with the small size of their communities were the common challenges faced by prosecutors. The survey also identified a need for training for investigators and prosecutors on corruption. The Corruption Working Group is planning to partner up with the Pacific Prosecutors’ Association to organise such a training in 2020.
The working group meeting was chaired by Kerryn Kwan, Principal Drafter, Nauru and was supported by Stephanie Chow, Senior Legal Officer of the Australian Attorney General’s Office. The members who attended were Dr Falai Taafaki, Chief Prosecutor, Republic of the Marshall Islands; Rachel Olumatiyin, Director, Public Prosecution Office, Solomon Islands; Ernestine Rengiil, Attorney General, Palau; Josephine Joseph, Assistant Attorney General, Federated States of Micronesia; Sasae Walter, PILON Coordinator; Debra Togoran, Nauru and Lavenia Rokovukago, UNDP.
(Top image) From left: Rachael Olumatiyin, Kerryn Kwan, Ernestine Rengiil, Dr Falai Taafaki, Josephine Joseph, Sasae Walter; Stephanie Chow, Debbie Togoran, Lavenia Rokovucago