A man of integrity and courage

by Josephine Serrallach

TINZ Director

José Carlos Ugaz Sánchez-Moreno, Chair of Transparency International since 2014, is indeed a “man of integrity and courage”.

In an interview given for the International Journal of Transparency and Integrity, José Ugaz mentioned that when he served as Ad-Hoc Attorney of Peru for high profile criminal cases involving the investigation of Fujimori/Montesinos, he endured aggressive media campaigns of character assassination and attempts against his life. But these did not stop or silence him. He considered it his duty, to his country and his people to continue on with the struggle against corruption. He knew the risk to his personal safety and to that of his family, but he persisted in his efforts until he achieved justice. During his mandate, US$205 million was frozen abroad and US$150 million was recovered and returned to his country.

José Ugaz has an impressive and extensive professional curriculum vitae. Studying and working in several countries, including Peru, the Netherlands and Spain, has given him a global perspective and vision providing him with the perfect credentials for leading the international movement of Transparency International (TI).

It comes as no surprise that as Chair of TI, he has developed a strong focus on unmasking “grand corruption” and on the role that civil society should play in its prevention.

People in New Zealand may think that this does not concern us or apply to our country. But as revealed by the Panama Papers and numerous other examples, there is no escape or protection from corruption in a global economy. New Zealand is not immune and prior to the Shewan Inquiry, it was at risk of being perceived as a country shielding grand corruption.

Under current New Zealand law, there is no requirement for foreign trusts and shell companies to register their beneficial ownership in New Zealand. Until the recommendation of the Shewan Inquiry for registering foreign trusts are adopted, New Zealand is at risk for allowing anonymous perpetrators of grand corruption to launder illegally obtained funds or purchase New Zealand property.

As our focus is on prevention, TINZ has become active in advocating for a law change regarding the establishment of a register of beneficiaries (and settlers) for all trusts and all legal entities set up in New Zealand.

José Ugaz insists that “to produce sustainable change it is not enough to punish those responsible. It is necessary to prevent corruption and, for that, deep institutional and cultural reforms are needed."

We are fortunate to live in a country where corruption is not systemic or “normalised”. There exists an element of complacency about it, however, which sometimes feels like a lack of “will” and a vacuum of leadership to act on prevention. In the words of José Ugaz, a man who showed by example what it takes and what it requires to fight corruption, there is a role for civic society to generate the necessary conditions towards change, for a better world, for a better future.

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Recent Activity

Public Sector Integrity Media Release
State Services Commission took a very positive step in addressing a key recommendation of TINZ's Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment by advertising a role for Deputy Commissioner, Integrity, Ethics and Standards. 11 May, 2017

Defence Inquiry Media Release
Transparency needed to support the integrity of our Defence Force 2 Apr, 2017

Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 TINZ media release
Transparency International 25 Jan, 2017

TINZ OGP Submission
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) submitted recommendations for New Zealand’s second Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan (NAP). Among the recommendations were a call for more ambition in creating NAPs and developing channels of communication for improving engagement with citizens. 19 Aug, 2016