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INTERVIEW - Expert says beware quick fixes offered by anti-corruption industry

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 19 Dec 2012 11:03 GMT
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LONDON (TrustLaw) - The anti-corruption movement should be wary of the emerging anti-corruption industry in which companies make inflated claims about their ability to reduce corruption or offer quick fixes, an Austrian former anti-graft prosecutor said.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, (corruption) has become much more trendy, some would even say a sexy issue...” said Martin Kreutner, head of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) in Vienna. “One needs to be careful though … there is of course the notion that... there is some kind of anti-corruption industry.”

As the enforcement of anti-corruption laws around the world increases, anti-corruption lawyers and compliance officers have found they are in great demand from companies looking to mitigate the risk of operating in countries in which corruption is considered rife.

To meet the demand for corporate anti-corruption expertise, a fast-growing anti-corruption industry has emerged which offers seminars, training courses and web-based certifications. Some of the programmes can cost many thousands of dollars.

Kreutner said he was not against the industry as a whole, but was worried that too many organisations were over-promising and under-delivering in their desire to make a fast buck in what they see as a growth industry.  

“It is not a bad thing per se,” he said of the anti-corruption industry. “It is a bad thing once parameters of quality, sustainability (and) continuity are not being met.”

“That means that anybody promising, by a four-day training or by one seminar or by applying only one strategy, that corruption will be eradicated within a few weeks or even a few months... is a liar,” Kreutner said.

While the IACA offers a masters in anti-corruption studies and also provides tailored anti-corruption training courses, Kreutner said it did not pretend to offer ‘a silver bullet’ and there was no single strategy that would solve the problem of corruption.  

He compared the relatively young anti-corruption movement to the human rights movement, saying that it took mankind over a hundred years to agree a common standard of human rights – which was still being violated today.

“You cannot expect Rome to be built in a day,” he said. “There is no grand unified theory, there is no silver bullet, this is about cultural change, this is about changing hearts and minds and this takes time.”

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