G-20 host Turkey lags in group’s anti-corruption push, TI says

The Turkish government met only one of the 10 G-20 principles to tackle secretive company ownership practices which facilitate corruption, creating a setback in perceptions of the country amidst criticism over its handling of bribery in the public sector, a leading anti-corruption group said on Wednesday.
A Transparency International (TI) report on the issue revealed on Wednesday that the majority of G-20 members, including Turkey, have fallen short of their promises to make legal reforms to prevent people, including corrupt officials, from hiding behind secret companies. The report comes before the G-20 summit in Antalya this weekend where leaders will discuss a set of beneficial ownership principles agreed last year at the Brisbane Summit. Back then, the G-20 described financial transparency as a and”high priorityand” issue and agreed to monitor progress in all members on making beneficial ownership information accessible.
The G-20 principles Turkey has failed in include identifying and mitigating the risk of money laundering and encouraging businesses to cooperate with local authorities and international partners. TI suggested that the Turkish government strengthen money laundering rules on financial institutions. Up to $2 trillion is laundered each year globally due to problems in company ownership transparency, TI says.
TI Managing Director Cobus de Swardt told Todayand’s Zaman on Wednesday in Istanbul that the findings are and”disappointingand” especially at a time when Turkeyand’s perceived corruption level is worsening. Turkey suffered the biggest drop in score out of 175 countries in TIand’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index published in December of last year. and”The biggest concern about Turkey is that the country is not only constantly going down in the corruption perception index, but is also on the edge of scoring less than 50 percent on it, which raises the risk perception for investors. This means Turkey is not doing really well compared to 5-6 years ago,and” the Berlin-based organization told Todayand’s Zaman.
The index — which is based on levels of public sector corruption as perceived by business people and country experts — rates countries from zero to 100, zero being the most corrupt.
h2Bribery eats into Turkish market stabilityh2 An ever worsening perception in global markets regarding the Turkish governmentand’s handling of corruption since two major bribery investigations in 2013 threatens to dent investor confidence in the country, TI Turkey chairwoman Oya andOzarslan tells Todayand’s Zaman.
She recalls that G-20 members announced last year an Action Plan to particularly focus on principles covering public contracts and open data. Turkey, as the rotating president, is expected to reveal its progress in implementing measures in these two areas during this weekendand’s Antalya summit.
andOzarslan said, however, that the G-20 standards are too loose to impose strict sanctions regarding transparency. and”The issue of transparency and anti-corruption needs to be assessed in a more cooperative manner instead of leaving rotating chairs alone with it each year at the G-20. andhellipthis also makes it difficult to make a comparison between G-20 pledges and implementation in this field,and” she argued.
Also touching on the issue, de Swardt says foreign investors have become much more conservative than before, being particularly interested in economic stability before they enter a market. and”In many emerging markets, investors have started to be more concerned about rule of law and a fair playing ground than profit margins. andhellip Turkey is one of these markets which has since lost its momentum in terms of opening its economy up and keeping up with reforms,and” he asserted.
The TI chief said, however, that it will not be possible for emerging markets like Turkey to live with limited access to information, nepotism and secret deals in public for a long time. and”This is not sustainable. andhellipand it is a question of time before pressure from the public helps bring corruption to justice.and”
With the previous Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government having done its best to sweep claims of widespread corruption under the rug, most global observers warn that the poor handling of corruption will harm economic development and create an unfavorable investment climate in Turkey.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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