WASHINGTON DC, USA – Strengthening the capacity of law enforcement through joint public-private sector action is fundamental to investigating and tackling transnational corruption, the head of INTERPOL told a gathering of top World Bank officials.
With 9 December marking International Anti-Corruption Day, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble told the World Bank's International Corruption Hunters Alliance inaugural meeting on Tuesday that fraud and corruption remained 'a major threat to the public in undermining civil society' even if anti-corruption efforts have gained more importance on the international agenda. The meeting included the World Bank's President, Robert B. Zoellick, and its Vice President for Integrity, Leonard McCarthy.
"Despite increasing high-level attention worldwide, evidence reminds us that a huge amount of work still remains to be done to eradicate the scourge of corruption, particularly in developing economies, and within both the public and private sectors," said Mr Noble, pointing to some estimates which put the annual cost of corruption worldwide at some USD 2.6 trillion.
In October, INTERPOL and the Integrity Vice Presidency of the World Bank group signed a framework agreement which brought the two organizations closer in combating corruption, a move described by Mr McCarthy as 'providing additional momentum for on-going work in detecting and investigating fraud and corruption across the globe'.
At Tuesday's meeting, Mr Noble said that international police channels and INTERPOL's global resources and communications network, coupled with private-public sector partnerships, were key to building the skills of officers leading corruption-related investigations, communicating with foreign counterparts to access operational information securely and rapidly across borders, and to obtaining immediate assistance to recover stolen assets.
In this last respect, INTERPOL has created an Asset Recovery Team which can be deployed worldwide to give mentoring and technical support in the field, as recently provided to Addis Ababa upon a request from the African Union.
The meeting also heard how INTERPOL supported the creation of the first-ever International Anti-Corruption Academy, which opened in Vienna in September. A United Nations initiative which INTERPOL financially backed with a USD 250,000 donation from the private sector, the Academy will strive to set global standards and best practices in working with international law enforcement and organizations to advance professional standards, education and personal training on anti-corruption work.
INTERPOL has developed a dedicated platform that will enable anti-corruption agencies to exchange information and technical knowledge via its I-24/7 secure global police communication network, to provide new avenues for timely intelligence sharing, operational co-ordination and analysis against corruption.