Corruption in the Context of Sporting and Other Major Public Events: Notes from the United Nations Conference
Complex logistical arrangements, tight timeframes, and the involvement of substantial public funds in organizing major sporting and public events leave them vulnerable to corruption risks. That was highlighted and discussed at a special event during the 5th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in Panamá at the end of last year.
Representatives from Russia suggested the creation of a “Global Alliance for Integrity in Sports”, a multilateral forum where governments, business, international and professional organizations, and civil society could discuss existing problems, share ideas, experience useful policy tools, launch anti-corruption projects and jointly make strategic decisions. More precisely, Russia suggested the creation of high-level principles that could be developed, for example, in the form of a global Pledge, Declaration or Resolution that would be adopted by the members. Although many participants at the event welcomed the idea, it would take a lot of effort before it became a reality (if ever).
With Brazil hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games, a lot of attention was given to Brazil at the conference. Mr. Sergio Seabra, Brazil’s Secretary for Corruption Prevention, presented the country`s initiatives to prevent and combat corruption in major public events. He pointed out that transparency and increased auditing have been used as the main tools to prevent and detect corruption.
The Brazilian federal government maintains a Transparency Portal specifically for the 2014 World Cup where anyone can obtain information about the R$16 billion (approximately $6.8 billion) contracted by the Government in projects related to it. In addition to the Portal, Mr. Seabra presented the anti-corruption project “Clean Games Inside and Outside of the Stadium” (“Jogos Limpos”) an initiative created by Ethos Institute of Business and Social Responsibility and the UN Global Compact launched to monitor public spending and to facilitate reporting of potential irregularities in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Mr. Seabra also indicated that auditing has been enhanced in such sporting events, and projects related to them have been subject to heightened pre-contracting scrutiny and closer post-contract monitoring to identify inflated prices, artificial creation of emergency situations, and other instances often related to corruption.
Also, during the event, Olajobi Makinwa, UN Global Compact’s Head of Transparency and Anti-Corruption Initiatives, presented the handbook “A Strategy for Safeguarding against Corruption in Major Public Events”, a non-binding manual prepared by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in cooperation with different organizations, companies and civil society, featuring a set of practical measures designed to mitigate the risks of corruption in major public events, especially sporting events.
Curiously, while the panel discussion was taking place, the DOJ and SEC released information about the Weatherford settlement, which included improper travel and entertainment to public officials from Algeria at the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany.
Companies considering paying for government clients to attend sporting events should implement measures to reduce risk and, among other things, ensure that all arrangements are legal under the laws of the country of the official and of the country where the event is going to take place.
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Post authored by Carlos Henrique da Silva Ayres, FCPAméricas Contributor