By H.E. Ambassador Gerhard Küntzle
Head of the Delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany
To the Conference of States Parties
To the UN Convention against Corruption
Abu Dhabi, 16 - 20 December 2019
At the outset and on behalf of the German delegation, I wish to thank the United Arab Emirates for hosting the 8th session of the Conference of States Parties. I also congratulate you, [Chair], on your election and would like to thank you for guiding us through the conference. Please be assured of the full support of my delegation.
I also wish to thank UNODC for preparing and organizing this conference so diligently.
Germany fully aligns itself with the statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. I wish to add the following comments in my national capacity.
Germany remains fully committed to preventing, detecting and prosecuting corruption and to join forces with other states in the international fight against corruption.
When it comes to the public sector, high standards of integrity are crucial in order to effectively prevent corruption. The German Federal Government put in place clear and strict rules for the conduct of its officials and for the assignment of tasks and responsibilities. We believe that integrity is not only about how to do a government job, but also about how to get such a job in the first place. Therefore, recruitment must be merit based, because only if we hire the best, and not the best connected, can we count on a civil service that acts with integrity, not just because it’s the law, but because officials are convinced that this is the right thing to do.
Another important aspect of our anti-corruption strategy is the cooperation with the private sector that takes place, e.g., in joint business/government fora on integrity and compliance issues. The private sector plays an essential role in combating corruption. Business can help to build integrity by acting in a transparent manner and saying no to corruption. However, where companies do not play by the rules and, for example, try to bribe their way into business, they must be held to account. In order to ensure that there are effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions for corporate crime, the German government is currently working on a reform of the liability of legal persons for criminal offences, including corruption. The reform aims at ending the current uneven and low enforcement of corporate liability. It will modernize our corporate liability regime, offer incentives for compliance and internal investigations and create clear and fair rules for investigating, prosecuting and sanctioning legal persons. By doing so, the draft bill that is currently undergoing interagency consultations will also address the recommendations issued in 2018 by the OECD in its Phase 4 Evaluation of Germany and take into account the G20 High Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons adopted at the Hamburg summit in 2017.
Private sector integrity and transparency will also be fostered by new legislation recently passed that will provide, in line with EU law, for public access to Germany’s beneficial ownership register. Also, Germany will implement the EU directive on whistle blower protection taking into account the G20’s High Level Principles on whistle blower protection adopted this year at the Osaka summit.
Corruption prevention is especially important where the public sector spends huge sums of money. I am talking about public procurement. According to EU and German law corrupt companies have to be excluded from public procurement procedures. To better enforce this in practice, Germany is currently establishing a national „competition register“. The register will include information on companies sanctioned for certain offences including corruption, and procurement authorities will have to consult this register before awarding contracts. The register should be operative by the end of next year.
Germany also remains committed to supporting countries all over the world in their implementation of the UNCAC through different bilateral, regional and international activities. In 2019, Germany continued to fund the Implementation Review Mechanism and to support UNODC in assisting States parties in country reviews and implementation of recommendations, including by sponsoring four country visits.
One of the main areas where technical assistance needs are identified is asset recovery. Therefore, Germany has hosted two Africa-Europe Dialogues on Asset Recovery in Berlin with the participation of policymakers and practitioners from 10 European and African jurisdictions to discuss good practices and establish networks.
Germany also provides innovative capacity development in different forms, including by strengthening capacities of anti-corruption bodies to conduct their own corruption risk analyses or by facilitating a peer-to-peer alliance of four African anti-corruption institutions. In addition, Germany supports civil society, e.g., Transparency International’s efforts to strengthen civil society in eleven African countries in their advocacy and monitoring role for the implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption.
To conclude I would like to underline that fighting corruption, as important as it is, must never become an end in itself and must never come at the cost of disrespecting fundamental rights, due process and the principle of proportionality. Due process safeguards might sometimes appear as an obstacle to a corruption investigation or prosecution. However, ultimately, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of the press and civil society participation, are our most valuable allies in the fight against corruption. This is why we must adhere to these principles at any time.