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A year and a half ago, Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) was enthusiastic about our country’s direction with its anti-corruption strategy.
After the release of the Panama Papers, the Shewan Inquiry progressed policy change at a faster pace, including speeding up of the Phase 2 Anti-Money Laundering legislation (AML). There were also signs of greater support for the Open Government Partnership (OGP) through a more transparent consultative process.
Now just 18 months later, New Zealand is falling behind when compared with other countries’ anti-corruption initiatives.
Transparency International’s global Secretariat recently released a report tracking the commitments of all countries made at the 2016 global Anti-Corruption Summit (ACS) in London. It found that while New Zealand made seven ACS commitments, only one - New Zealand developing partnerships with international sporting bodies for combatting corruption in sport - is complete. The rest are either under-action or inactive. See New Zealand Government's pledges tracked from the Anti-Corruption Summit London 2016 in this newsletter.
New Zealand is falling behind global standards and needs to do more. For example little direct progress has been made addressing the important commitment of "exploring the establishment of a public central register of company beneficial ownership information.” Meanwhile the UK launched a public beneficial ownership register in 2017, and now all European Union countries are in the process of implementing a beneficial ownership register of companies. See Public register of beneficial owners saves time and money.
The lack of progress on the world stage is inconsistent with international perceptions that New Zealand is a leader in addressing corruption.
While lack of awareness and complacency remain, anti-corruption and transparency issues are now regularly discussed in the media and Government. We call on the new Government to turn the talk and commitments into action. Make New Zealand both the least corrupt public sector in the world and the world leader in corruption prevention.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.
6 October 2017