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Recently, the international media has reported on a number of corruption scandals at the global level, which are currently under investigation, a situation that shows a change of attitude demanded by civil society of zero tolerance to corruption and abuse of power.
These scandals that are coming now to light have been brewing for many years without detection, investigation or punishment. An attitude that has prevailed in the past of turning a blind eye to corruption or covering up at the board level, behaviour that was normalised in many businesses and governments. This is hopefully coming to an end.
FIFA is again in the spotlight after a judicial process that has been opened in Switzerland against Sepp Blatter for alleged corruption and abuse of power. In addition to Blatter agreeing to a contract contrary to FIFA’s interest, there has been the discovery of an unwarranted payment of 1.8 million euros to the President of UEFA, Michel Platini, now candidate to succeed Blatter as President of FIFA.
Another big scandal resonating worldwide has been the legal and criminal charges against the Volkswagen for the installation of a sophisticated software in a number of models with diesel motors that provided an erroneous reading of the emissions of toxic gases.
At the annual membership meeting (AMM) of Transparency International 2015 that took place in Malaysia, there was an overwhelming approval for a strategy (“Together against Corruption”- Strategy 2020) with great emphasis on ending impunity for the corrupt. This is not only a direction for the movement but also a clear mandate from civil society of not tolerating corruption at any level and calling for the end of impunity.
Some years ago there was no talk of corruption, although it already existed, and it is good news that corruption cases are now being exhaustively investigated and covered by international media while judicial systems are engaged on major prosecutions involving people who were in high positions of power.
What does this mean for New Zealand?
The Volkswagen scandal has damaged the image of a country with a reputation of producing good quality products. The brand “made in Germany” was recognised all over the world as a guarantee of quality. Now this brand has received a huge knock.
One single incident can damage the reputation of a country and damage the brand that has been built over many years.
The lesson for New Zealand is that we should be vigilant and working on prevention systems. In addition to the “green and clean” branding New Zealand should capitalise on its “corruption free” image. It is now a valuable asset. Together we should keep it that way.