Remarks of Ambassador Sheila Gwaltney at the U.S. Department of State International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Anticorruption Roundtable

October 31, 2016

I am happy to be here today to open the roundtable on anticorruption. I thank the representatives from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Prosecutors from the Kyrgyz Republic for their work to organize the event. We look forward to hearing as well from Latvian and Ukrainian experts, who have traveled here to share their experiences with us.

Like the Kyrgyz Republic, the U.S. realizes how important it is to tackle corruption. Corruption is believed to account for 5 percent of global GDP, costing the global economy an estimated $1 to $2.6 trillion annually. It imposes a heavy tax on economic growth wherever it is exists. Therefore, fighting this crime is a priority of the United States, just as it is for the Kyrgyz authorities.

The United States takes very seriously the obligation to hold accountable those who engage in corruption. Under its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it has successfully prosecuted the highest number of international corruption cases to date amongst all the OECD member countries.

Given the heavy toll that corruption takes on economic growth, especially in developing countries, programs to combat corruption and strengthen the rule of law are major foci of U.S. cooperation programs worldwide. That is why we fund this initiative today and why we support the work of OECD’s Anticorruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Kyrgyz Republic is in an excellent position to fight corruption then many other countries. The Kyrgyz Republic’s openness, strong civil society and free media ensure that the voices of key stakeholders are heard in anti-corruption reforms.

The United States is committed to long-term support of the fight against corruption in Kyrgyzstan through projects such as this initiative helping Kyrgyzstan build capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute corruption offences.

The theme of today’s expert workshop is corporate liability for corruption offences: this is a challenging concept for implementation in many countries. Conservative legal traditions and practical challenges have precluded efficient enforcement of corporate liability in many countries.

We hope this workshop and the next activities of the Project will help Kyrgyzstan generate its own solutions to implementation in this area. We also hope it will create solid ground for enforcement of corporate liability and increasing the enforcement of criminal responsibility for complex corruption crimes.

Thank you very much for your attention and above all, for your commitment to the fight against corruption.