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Fighting corruption is key for the defence of the Swiss financial centre. For this purpose, Switzerland pursues a comprehensive approach and is active on all levels: prevention, criminalisation, technical assistance, and asset recovery. At the international level, Switzerland supports the evaluation and verification measures of the OECD and the Council of Europe (Group of States against Corruption, GRECO), which contribute to the formulation of clear, universally binding rules.
Corruption is a global challenge. It substantially suppresses economic transactions, distorts competition, and damages trust. Since the 1990s, the fight against corruption has therefore been near the top of the priority list of the international community. Today, three anti-corruption conventions form the normative basis for States parties dealing with corruption. The OECD and Council of Europe conventions establish a procedure for analysing and monitoring the anti-corruption policy of the States parties. Regular mutual reviews are combined with recommendations for legal, organisational, and practical improvements, in order to achieve the jointly defined standards. The UN Convention against Corruption is the only anti-corruption agreement open to all States and contains provisions for the repatriation of corruption money. Switzerland is a State party to the OECD and Council of Europe conventions. It has also signed the UN convention and expects to ratify it in the second half of 2009.
At the international level, the United States, France, and Germany are especially engaged in the field of anti-corruption, even though they were hit themselves by various scandals - e.g. Total and Siemens - in the past. The UK's relationship with the OECD was extremely tense in 2006 and 2007, after the UK suspended investigations concerning the arms manufacturer BAE Systems on grounds of national security. Since then, it has tried in various ways to undermine the anti-corruption efforts of the OECD. Among developing countries, Indonesia and Nigeria are showing constructive efforts within the UN framework.
Council of Europe (GRECO): The Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) - a commission of the Council of Europe - released its evaluation report on Switzerland on 2 June 2008. The report contains 13 recommendations covering a wide range of anti-corruption aspects, such as the competent body, judicial independence, sensitisation, conflicts of interest, and protection of whistleblowers. Switzerland will submit a report to GRECO in October 2009 on measures it has taken on the basis of each individual recommendation. It then has time until February 2010 to complete its implementation of the recommendations before the final evaluation in April 2010.
OECD Working Group on Bribery: In March 2004, the second phase of the evaluation of Switzerland took place. The evaluation found that 8 of the 10 recommendations had not yet been implemented. In March 2009, Switzerland had to respond orally to these recommendations. The OECD Working Group is currently developing a third phase to ensure monitoring of the anti-corruption policy of OECD members and to sustain political pressure. At the same time, changes to the instruments (e.g. to the conventions and recommendations) are being discussed with a view to strengthening them and adapting them to the current conditions.
Negotiations are currently underway on a joint recommendation of the OECD Working Group on Bribery and the OECD Committee on Fiscal Affairs (Recommendation on Tax Measures for further combating bribery). This recommendation calls upon tax authorities of member States to report persons suspected of corruption within the framework of their tax law. Swiss tax law allows, but does not require, tax authorities to make such reports; the recommendation thus corresponds to Swiss practice.
United Nations: The UNCAC can claim universality with 140 signatories, but is still at the beginning of this process. Three working groups were established in 2006, which are responsible for implementation of the convention, technical assistance, and asset recovery. Their activities are now underway.
IDWG Combating corruption: On 19 December 2008, the Federal Council decided to establish an interdepartmental anti-corruption working group with a formal mandate. This working group under the direction of the Department of Foreign Affairs will develop a harmonised anti-corruption policy by including all participants at the federal level as well as the cantons and civil society.
Fighting corruption is key for the defence of our financial centre. With its mechanisms for uncovering unlawfully acquired assets and for combating money laundering, Switzerland has effective means at its disposal to prevent its financial centre from being abused for criminal purposes. With its efforts and successes in the fight against corruption, Switzerland contributes to the good reputation of its financial centre.
In fighting corruption, Switzerland pursues a comprehensive approach and is simultaneously engaged at all important levels: sensitisation, prevention, criminalisation, technical cooperation, mutual assistance, and asset recovery. Prevention plays a key role in combating corruption, since the sensitisation of all parties - politicians, administration, courts, civil society - is essential for the success of the measures. Legal resources must be adjusted so that they permit criminalisation, uncovering, and subsequent prosecution. Finally, Switzerland believes that technical assistance must take place at all levels of fighting corruption - from prevention to asset recovery - and it insists on compliance with and strict application of mutual assistance rules.
The international community must fight corruption jointly, and for this purpose, States must work together and make their particular experiences and skills available to each other. Switzerland therefore supports the anti-corruption policy evaluation mechanisms of the OECD and GRECO, since only careful monitoring of the practices of member States and credible recommendations can ensure an effective fight against corruption and sustain political pressure.
 OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (1997); Criminal Law Convention of the Council of Europe on Corruption (1999); United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC, 2003).
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