Mr. Mathad Al-ajmi
What does it mean to you personally to head the B20 Integrity & Compliance Taskforce?
Curbing corruption in the world’s marketplace is of paramount importance to global growth. Corruption costs developing countries US$1.26 trillion every year, and the global economy loses US$3.6 trillion to impropriety yearly. It is also a key barrier to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as the elimination of poverty and hunger, improving education, quality of life, and the infrastructure of each state. I’ve dedicated my career to identifying frameworks and actions to combat corruption, and it is a privilege and an honor to lead a taskforce composed of more than 100 delegates from the largest global economies to tackle these recommendations.
Can you provide an overview of the priorities for your taskforce?
There is a correlation between integrity and transparency in marketplaces, and the growth experienced by that market. Ten members of the G20 are among the 50 least corrupt countries in the world. These members have worked to establish transparency recommendations at previous B20 Summits, but progress is a process. We hope to build on the legacies of these previous summits in Tokyo, Germany and Argentina, by learning from their policy actions and the work done by our taskforce members.
There are many themes and priorities that are integral parts to creating a transparent and integrity-driven system. Some of the most recognized are:
- the leveraging of new technologies in managing the risk of corruption and fraud
- ensuring further integrity and transparency in public procurement
- collectively pursuing and legislating for the implementation of responsible business conduct in infrastructure projects
- the protection of whistleblowers
- the strengthening of corporate governance
- enhancing incentives for beneficial ownership transparency
- criminalizing bribery
It’s important to note that none of this works if we’re not operating in a transparent, integrity-driven business environment. Ultimately, that’s what we hope to accomplish through the work of this taskforce.
What are the goals of your taskforce?
The Integrity & Compliance Taskforce believes that in order to create an open, transparent and legitimate world economy, the members of that marketplace must be in alignment in the terms and conditions of participating in that economy, both for developing and developed countries. To create this alignment, the taskforce will contribute to policy recommendations that will be presented to the G20 structure at the conclusion of the Summit.
There are several pillars and themes on which these recommendations will be predicated. The first of which is the inclusion of new technologies in managing corruption and fraud. Others will include the establishment of transparency in public procurement, the implementation of higher standards for ethics and integrity in both private and public sectors, multinational coordination for enforcing extra-territorial bribery laws, and the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency.
Economic growth is worth nothing if it is not accompanied by growth in regulation and oversight of that economy. By ensuring that all members of a marketplace are following the same rules, then equitable, sustainable and inclusive growth across industries is inevitable.
What is the main challenge for businesses today to fight corruption?
We all know that corruption undermines progress. As mentioned earlier, the global economy loses US$3.6 trillion annually to corruption. Citizens have the most to lose as this robs education, healthcare and welfare programs of financial support. Global companies adhere to responsible business conduct to ensure operational efficiency, profitable growth and an inclusive culture, all the while managing local, regional and international laws and regulations. To that end, we believe that collaboration amongst the international community is the only way to effectively combat corruption.
What is your taskforce doing to address the current COVID-19 pandemic?
The COVID-19 epidemic is a human tragedy affecting untold numbers of people, both in their physical and financial health. Both states and markets within them are under significant pressure to sustain their businesses and protect their employees in a trying time.
With large stimulus packages being approved by Federal Governments around the world, integrity and compliance are more critical than ever to ensure transparent systems are put in place to aid people in dire situations across different economies.
During a global pandemic like this, supply chain disruptions are ripe for corruption. This can include preferential treatment, quid pro quos, bribery, kickbacks and insider training. As products, material and personnel become more in demand, the temptation for impropriety becomes greater. That’s why we have called on the G20 to address the corruption risks posed by these disruptions, and to remind companies that integrity and compliance obligations – both de facto and de jure – must remain enforced, even when external pressures exist.