I am honoured to have the opportunity to be here today and to represent the ICC – the International Chamber of Commerce– at this very important Forum that has been organised to further the fight against corruption.
I would like, before I say a few words about the ICC, to express my admiration for the excellent work of the B20 China Host Committee.
The G20 addresses issues which go to the heart of the global economic agenda. Its recognition that corruption poses a barrier to international trade and its determination to tackle the challenges posed by that scourge is reflected in the formation of the Anti-Corruption Working Group and in the formulation of the Anti-Corruption Action Plan.
Its work receives vital nourishment from the B20 which is a vital source of policy recommendations on issues which concern trade and financial flows. The success of the G20’s highly commendable agenda depends to a large extent on the quality and practicality of the recommendations that are made by the B20.
Under China’s leadership, the B20 is taking another positive and much needed step in the right direction. This B20 Anti-Corruption Forum, with its theme ”Combating Corruption to Foster Sustainable Growth”, will provide a very important platform for the sharing of ideas which in turn will help formulate policy recommendations which will enrich the anti-corruption work of the G20.
The ICC is proud to play a part in this highly commendable enterprise.
The main aim of the ICC is to promote open international trade and investment and to help businesses benefit from the opportunities of globalisation.
Trade can be a powerful force for peace and prosperity but the road to that goal is paved with challenges. The ICC’s activities are designed to help businesses overcome those challenges. This the ICC does by taking a leadership role in dispute resolution, rule setting, and policy advocacy.
ICC’s International Court of Arbitration is the world’s leading institution for arbitration. Business leaders and experts drawn from the ICC membership develop advocacy and business tools on a range of areas from corporate responsibility and anti-corruption, to trade and investment policy, environment, intellectual property and other areas.
Some of you are very familiar with the Incoterms and the UCP 600 for documentary credits. These are some of the tools that ICC has developed to ensure that trade is rule-based and conducted with the utmost transparency.
ICC emphasises the critical role of compliance by companies with self-imposed rules which are practical, while recognizing the basic responsibility of laws and policies in the fight against all corrupt practices, including extortion, solicitation and bribery.
ICC recognises the importance of working within the excellent framework of forums like this to refine concrete, practical anti-corruption tools, to build capacity and strengthen training, subjects that will be discussed in greater detail during the first panel session.
We need to work together to identify common goals and priorities and the public and private sector have to collaborate if we are to successfully combat corruption to foster sustainable growth.
At this point I would like to share with you some of my own personal experiences. I am a lawyer by training and I joined the ICC as Vice Chair in December last year. It was an invitation which I greatly embraced because of my own experience in the fight against corruption.
As a lawyer from Singapore, I have seen how corruption can be insidious, how it can be corrosive and destroy innocent people’s lives, destroy businesses. Corruption as you know is ever creative, and will take forms beyond those which are recognizable today. And therefore unless we all join hands in this fight against corruption, unless we have governments that are committed to the cause, unless businesses remain focused on the objectives, and unless the channels of communication and dialogue remain open, we are going to lose the fight. As I said earlier, what is happening today would not have been imaginable a few years ago or perhaps a few decades ago. But today, today in this transformed landscape, you have a coming together of different forces, when different forums like this one, where we have the benefit of exchanging ideas to enable those who have the ability to formulate the policies that are much needed to fight this scourge.
I have prosecuted corruption cases and I can tell you that it’s not easy to do so because it is very difficult to get witnesses. But in the prosecution of the corruption cases, I have seen how businesses have been undermined, costs have increased, all because there wasn’t the determination at the early stage to build rules within the system, within the companies and to apply those rules across the board.
I have also sued as a lawyer for defamation where politicians have been allegedly corrupt. Corruption is not limited to the taking of money. Corruption includes nepotism. And in those fights, I have seen for myself how individual reputation has been damaged unless the courts and the systems and the laws are stringent and protect the reputations of people against these allegations.
Where today we come together and have this opportunity, we should cherish it because with the remarkable work that China is doing as a country, with the amazing efforts of China leadership in this B20, with the involvement of the ICC and the knowledge partner of Ernst and Young and with all your contributions, I have no doubt that this is a very important step, not the final step though, towards the aim of eradicating this disease which can eat us all up if we are not vigilant. Thank you very much.