40 years after the publication of the FCPA and 20 years after the signature of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, 2017 saw several developments in the fight against corruption.
And if these developments, although relatively isolated for the time being, were to become more commonplace I could, we all could, dream of a world where corruption disappears. My dream for 2018 is that the three following wishes become reality:
I have a dream that the day will come when the corrupt political and business elite will not be immune from prosecution
The intensification of investigations and criminal prosecutions of executives from large companies as well as of politicians and high level public servants in Brazil this past year is particularly significant.
The conviction of Lee Jae-yong, acting President of South Korea’s emblematic Samsung, and the prosecution of the former head of state, Park Geun-hye, are also notable.
That countries like Brazil and South Korea – both of whom are members of the club of advanced countries that is the OECD - dare to question the actions of their elites regardless of political or economic consequences or public image, should be lauded as it demonstrates their determination to arrive at a thoroughly transparent and democratic society.
It is equally encouraging to see that in Asia and certain countries of the Middle East there have also been arrests for corruption.
Hopefully, these examples are sound proof that no-one can any longer, regardless of his position in the business or political community, consider himself above the law or beyond the reach of anti-corruption laws.
I have a dream that the day will come where people will not be afraid to blow the whistle
In 2017 many countries reinforced their whistleblowing systems and procedures for whistleblower protection. And these developments were not limited to countries signatory to the OECD Convention like France but included emerging economies like Tunisia.
If, in every country, witnesses to corrupt activities were not only unafraid to report these acts, but also considered that reporting them was their duty to ensure integrity which is a shared common good, then it would be the turn of the corruptors and the corrupted to be afraid.
The hope for this was declared as a priority by the Head of the OECD Working Group on the Anti-Bribery Convention, Drago Kos, when he articulated his determination to advance whistleblower protections during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the OECD Convention.
I have a dream that the day will come when no one dies merely because he or she had the courage to fight corruption.
In 2017, many courageous people died because it was their job to fight corruption.
Two officials of the anti-corruption agency were killed in Kabul in April and a Lagos agent of the Nigeria Financial Crimes Agency was also executed in June.
Journalists in the Maldives, Mexico and Malta were killed in April, June and October because they were investigating cases of corruption.
The high price they paid demonstrates how useful their mission to combat corruption was and continues to be. May their sacrifice be remembered.
Martin Luther King's dream became a reality because it was shared by millions of people.
Let's share the dream of a world where corruption will become a criminal exception and not a tolerated rule.