Accountants seen as key players in war on corruption

24 Jul 18

Public sector accountants are in the front line of the battle against corruption, a global accountancy body spearheading a new anti-graft initiative has told PF International.

The International Federation of Accountants and the International Bar Association called for collaboration in the fight against corruption in a joint declaration last week ahead of the G20 meetings in Buenos Aires.

Corruption is a “major threat” to economic stability and growth said the two bodies, which together represent the legal and accounting professions across the G20 and more than 170 jurisdictions around the world.

According to the International Monetary Fund, bribery alone costs the global economy nearly $2 trillion every year – approximately 2% of global GDP.

Russell Guthrie, CFO of IFAC, told PF International that the accounting profession plays both an internal role within institutions and an external role as auditors in the fight against corruption and fraud.

“Accountants are in positions to be able to come across instances of fraud and corruption and there is an obligation to systematically report those matters.”

During the G20 meetings in Argentina, Laura Alonso, head of the Argentine Anti-Corruption Office, also said that accountants are vital assets in the fight against corruption.

IFAC’s senior policy advisor for public policy and regulation, Amir Ghandar, who was in Buenos Aires, told PF International that the role of public sector financial management in fighting corruption was high on the agenda.

“There is value in having a robust, clear set of books in making it so much harder for corruption to go undetected,” he said.

“I was struck by how much of an emphasis [on corruption], from a government side and policy side, at the G20, as well as business, there really was on this issue as something that need to be brought up the list of priorities.”

Last year, an IFAC study found that the accountancy profession plays a major role globally in reducing corruption and ensuring strong governance structures.

The joint declaration said: “We stand united in the fight against corruption in all its forms and are committed to sharing knowledge, skills and intelligence with our fellow professionals and with all agencies fighting this cause.”

The IBA is a network of over 80,000 lawyers around the world. IFAC told PF International that the two organisations hope to enable their members to work together at the national level to combat corruption.

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