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OAS Anti-Corruption Committee Met with Experts from International Organizations and the Private Sector

  September 11, 2014

The Committee of Experts of the Mechanism for Follow-Up on the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) today held, in the framework of its 24th Meeting, a session on issues of collective interest during which several experts of international organizations and representatives of the private sector presented various experiences with regard to the fight against the scourge of corruption.

The first panel analyzed “the responsibility of the private sector in preventing and combating corruption”. The Vice President of the Center for Responsible Enterprise and Trade ( ), Leslie Benton, indicated that her organization works with corporations with the objective to expand to the entire private sector practices that fight against corruption and protect intellectual property. To that end, Benton’s group has developed two types of services, one that specializes in anti-corruption practices, and the other, in intellectual property protection. She added that both initiatives are available in Chinese, English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Michael Hershman, President of the Fairfax Group, said that worldwide anti-corruption controls are greater in the private sector than in the public sector. He noted that there are many countries where corporate oversight of subsidiaries that do business in Latin America or Africa is not very rigorous in terms of corruption controls. Moreover, he said that there is a greater pressure on companies to comply with anti-corruption conventions and treaties that their respective countries have signed.

Gonzalo Guzmán, representative of the International Bar Association (IBA), said that in 2013, the IBA conducted a survey on corruption through law firms around the world, which revealed that over 80 percent of respondents perceived other lawyers as being corrupt to some degree or at risk of falling into corruption. Guzman added that the lawyers surveyed expressed concern about relations that lawyers develop with public sector officials. In this regard, he noted that 60 percent of the persons surveyed indicated that they see justice as the most vulnerable of all public powers.

During the second panel, the economist of the World Bank, Francesca Recanatini, spoke on the challenges and good practices for anti-corruption authorities. Referring to the challenges that the Anti-Corruption Authorities (ACAs) face, she asserted that there is a need for key institutions and for the support of the leader of the country” in which they operate. She indicated that the ACAs rely on limited resources and that there is “tension between prevention and prosecution”. Regarding the structure and mandates, she said that the ACAs are very diverse, can take various forms and develop different functions, such as prevention, investigation, prosecution, research, and outreach. As to the ACAs’ mandates, she said that “the organizational theory” recommends a sole mandate to achieve greater effectiveness because “a clear mandate leads to a better coordination among the various agencies”.

The third panel was chaired by the General Coordinator of Agreements and International Cooperation of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Union (CGU, by its Portuguese acronym) of the federal government of Brazil, Camila Colares Bezerra, who spoke on the “international cooperation on non-criminal matters in the fight against corruption”. Colares Bezerra noted that while historically corruption has not been fought with criminal instruments, recently in some South American countries, such as Brazil, a series of non-criminal instruments to address the issue were adopted. In this regard, she said that one of the main differences between criminal and non-criminal instruments is that in the first instance, they seek to send to prison the person being prosecuted while in the second, the penalty is based on fines or monetary sanctions. In addition, she said that experts have noticed that non-criminal instruments are more effective and more practical because when applying the standard of proof, it is not necessary to be as strict as in proceedings under criminal law. As an example, she indicated that a total of 4,938 civil servants in Brazil were dismissed by the CGU; 67 percent of them were for acts of corruption, of which only 6.8 percent were subject to a judicial review.

Since its inception, MESICIC has implemented three rounds of review and the fourth is still in process. The 24th session of the Mechanism, which began on Monday, is chaired by Ecuador and will conclude tomorrow, Friday, when it will elect its new authorities and adopt the reports on Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Suriname, Belize, and Haiti, countries that received on-site visits during the current round of review.

The MESICIC is a cooperation mechanism between states, with wide participation of civil society organizations, established within the framework of the OAS, in which the legal and institutional framework of each country is reviewed for suitability with the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, as well as the objective results achieved therein. The incorporation of on-site visits, with the approval of the country host, as a stage and integral part of the review process represents an innovative and pioneering initiative in the context of the OAS, which, with the support of its Technical Secretariat, has further strengthened this reciprocal review mechanism among states.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-369/14