Programme to counter corruption launched

A number of organisations have combined their resources to offer specialist courses to businesses and individuals to safeguard New Zealand’s status as a corruption-free country.

The ‘Integrity Group’ launched its programme on June 9, 2014, aiming to raise awareness of the risk of corrupt practices and help businesses and other organisations deal with such practice by others.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) Deloitte, Chapman Tripp, Institute of Directors, NZ Institute of Chartered Accountants, BusinessNZ and ExportNZ are among the members of the Group.

The material for the courses was donated pro bono by the SFO, TINZ (free online training), Deloitte and Chapman Tripp (free online and in-person training).

The Berlin based Transparency International Secretariat, which publishes its annual global ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ (CPI) has consistently rated New Zealand as a country with a strong reputation of a clean Government.

Least corrupt

According to TINZ, New Zealand’s public sector has been consistently ranked among the least corrupt in the world.

“This reputation is not a coincidence. New Zealand has a long tradition of being first with legislation aimed at promoting human rights, the milestones of which include the Public Service Act 1912 and the Official Information Act 1982. TINZ is committed to continue this tradition through actions that increase public sector transparency and extend good governance throughout all New Zealand institutions. Integrity and good governance are important in that they underpin government legitimacy and the freedoms, civil liberties and ability to participate in a democratic state.”

Integrity Assessment

However, the Organisation presented a different picture in its ‘Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System (NIS) Assessment.’

It said that the System faces increasing challenges.

“In key areas, passivity and complacency continue. New Zealand has not ratified the ‘UN Convention against Corruption’ (signed more than ten years ago) and is not fully compliant with the legal requirements of the ‘OECD Anti-Bribery Convention’ signed more than 14 years ago. Areas of concern, weakness and risk do exist; for example, the relative dominance of the political executive, shortfalls in transparency in many pillars and inadequate efforts to build proactive strategies to enhance and protect integrity in New Zealand,” the Report said.

The assessment found that the strongest pillars in the NIS are the Office of the Auditor General, the Judiciary, the Electoral Commission and the Ombudsman.

“The Political Parties Pillar raises issues of most concern,” the Report said.

Increasing risks

In a statement published in our December 15, 2011 issue, TINZ Chair (then Director) Suzanne Snively had said that the CPI was a measure of perceived public sector corruption only, and experts and members of the business community made that assessment.

“It does not address private sector corruption, nor does it serve as a measure of the broader public perception of corruption issues. Several other recent Transparency International publications have shown that there remains cause for concern in New Zealand,” she said.

SFO Chief Executive Julie Read had told Indian Newslink during an interview (published in our January 15, 2014 issue) that her Office is constantly aware that New Zealand businesses and people are exposed to risks as they increasingly deal with some countries in Asia and other parts of the world where bribery could be seen in a different perspective.

“Our ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ is directed towards preserving the status of New Zealand as the ‘least corrupt country,’ ensuring that unhealthy practices are not allowed into the country. We do collective work and cooperate with other agencies to achieve our objectives,” she said.

Unethical business

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly agreed, saying that New Zealand now has more international dealings than before and is therefore exposed to unethical business practice in other countries.

“Exporters, importers and those with business partners in other countries might be operating in areas where bribes or kickbacks are common and need to know how to avoid being drawn into such dealings. Our freedom from corruption is of immense value to New Zealand businesses and the New Zealand brand, and the anti-corruption training will help maintain this standing,” he said.

Four years ago, this newspaper established the Indian Newslink Sir Anand Satyanand Lecture to encourage New Zealanders in general and those in public and corporate entities in particular to appreciate and practice tenets of Accountability, Transparency and Integrity as an integral part of Good Governance.

Decision makers, judges, barristers, solicitors, lawyers, corporate leaders and Government officials attend the Lecture to carry its benefits to their professional lives. The Lecture has been structured to allow time for questions, discussions and interaction.

This project is non-political and non-commercial, intended to bring the best of the intellect available to speak at the annual event.

This year’s Lecture will be held on Monday, July 28, 2014 at Pullman Hotel, Auckland. Auckland Regional Facilities Executive Chairman and Former Secretary General of the Commonwealth and former Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Sir Don McKinnon will be the Guest Speaker, under the theme, ‘The Challenges of Democracy confronting New Zealand.’ Member of Parliament and former Foreign Affairs & Trade Minister Hon Phil Goff will be the Master of Ceremonies. Tickets to the event, including cocktails from 630 pm to 730 pm, Black Tie Dinner and the Lecture, is priced at $140 plus GST per person (Tables seating ten persons at $1400 plus GST) are now available.

Please write to or call 021-836528.

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