INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST CORRUPTION PASSING BY -- FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS STILL NOT RATIFIED THE UN CONVENTION AGAINST CORRUPTION, NOR INCLUDED KEY MEASURES IN BILL C-2 AND BILL C-25 NEEDED TO COMBAT GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION IN CANADA
Friday, December 8, 2006
OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on the Senate to close a key gap in Bill C-25 by adding senior Canadian politicians and government officials to the bank account watch-list of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac). This change is recommended by the international standard-setting Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Article 52 of the United Nation’s Convention Against Corruption (which came into force in December 2005).
Tomorrow, Saturday, December 9, 2006, is the International Day Against Corruption, and representatives from countries around the world are meeting in Jordan from December 10th to 14th to continue the development of the UN’s anti-corruption program.
While 140 countries have signed the UN Convention, including Canada in May 2004, Canada is not among the 80 countries that have ratified the Convention, and Canadian governments continue to fail to enact effective measures to combat government corruption in Canada. According to the recently released Angus Reid World Poll, 46 percent of Canadians are concerned about government corruption.
The FATF, now headed by former Department of Finance financial institutions’ policy director Frank Swedlove, recommends that the accounts of all “politically exposed persons” (PEPs) be tracked.
Among many other measures, Article 52 of the UN Convention Against Corruption states that:
"...Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary, in accordance with its domestic law, to require financial institutions within its jurisdiction . . . to conduct enhanced scrutiny of accounts sought or maintained by or on behalf of individuals who are, or have been, entrusted with prominent public functions and their family members and close associates...."In its June 2005 consultation paper, the federal Department of Finance agreed with these recommendations and proposed to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) to require this extra scrutiny of “foreign or domestic” politically exposed persons.
However, Bill C-25 only adds the bank accounts of foreign politicians and key government officials and their families to Canadian financial institutions’ and Fintrac’s watch-list, not Canadian politicians or government officials.
Democracy Watch also called on all federal political parties to continue to focus on closing the more than 40 huge loopholes that will be left in the federal government’s accountability system even if Bill C-2 (the so-called “Federal Accountability Act”) passes as expected next week. Many of the loopholes will remain because the Conservatives failed to include 21 promised measures in Bill C-2, and weakened many of the measures included in the bill.
“The federal Conservatives are playing the same dangerously naive game that all past Canadian governments have played by pretending that corruption only affects foreign governments,” said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. “While the proposed Federal Accountability Act and the Criminal Code prohibit corrupting donations to politicians and government officials, international standard setters have made it clear that such bans are impossible to enforce effectively unless the bank accounts of politicians and government officials are tracked closely and other key preventive measures are enacted.”
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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
To see details about the UN Convention on Corruption, click here
To see details in the Department of Finance's June 2005 consultation
To see federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's October 11, 2006 speech
To see Democracy Watch's November 15, 2006 news release analyzing Bill C-2, click here
“Federal Accountability Act” (Bill C-2 -- See it and all related documents at: http://www.accountability.gc.ca)
To see details about the Angus Reid World Poll, click here
Democracy Watch's Money in Politics Campaign
Democracy Watch's Government Ethics Campaign
Democracy Watch homepage