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international regulatory enforcement

Focus on a New Actor in the Fight Against Corruption: the Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities

February 22, 2021

By Nicola Bonucci

Grouping a number of national anti-corruption agencies, the Network of Corruption Prevention Authorities (“NCPA”), which was launched in October 2018 within the Framework of the Council of Europe, is becoming more visible and active.  

The NCPA has now 30 members, mostly – but not only – Europeans.  For example, Brazil CGU is a non-European member.  According to its website, the NCPA aims at:

  • Uniting efforts to improve the systematic collection, management and exchange of information among anti-corruption authorities, including their respective experiences and good practices;
  • Supporting the members to enhance capacities and promote operational independence;
  • Recognizing and promoting international standards for the prevention of corruption; and
  • Stimulating and partnering with other international stakeholders for the promotion of integrity[1].

In May 2020, the NCPA, in partnership with the French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) produced a Global Mapping of Anti-Corruption Authorities that contains a set of very interesting data[2].

The report shows that 63 percent of the anti-corruption agencies that responded to the survey (“ACAs”), 108 out of 171, may conduct investigations and/or institute criminal proceedings.  These investigations and criminal proceedings mainly concern natural persons, but legal persons also fall within the scope of 79 of these ACAs .

This year, the NCPA and its members conducting such investigations or instituting criminal proceedings could benefit from a new powerful tool.

Indeed, on January 22, the AFA issued a press release on the launch of Datacros, a tool designed to detect anomalies in the capital ownership of companies that may present high risks of collusion, corruption and money laundering.  Co-founded by the European Union, Datacros is being developed by an international consortium coordinated by Transcrime - a research center on transnational crime of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan - in partnership with the AFA, the Cuerpo Nacional de la Policia of Spain (CNP) and the Investigative Reporting Project of Italy (IRPI).[3]

Datacros is intended to assess ownership links among firms in order to identify collusion patterns; property relationships; ownership links between firms and politically exposed persons (“PEPs”), also including low-rank and local PEPs not covered by the EU regulation’s disclosure requirements; and complex cross-border firms’ ownership structures and ownership links to offshore and high-risk jurisdictions.

According to the AFA press release, the user interface would include two areas:

  • A Restricted Area, only accessible by authorized users, that aims to assist investigative and due diligence activities by retrieving the identified anomalies at a company level. The ownership structure of a company of interest would be retrieved along with the connection with tax heavens, off-shore and blacklisted jurisdictions, and PEPs ;
  • A Public Area designed to enable citizens’ oversight at an aggregated level. The identified anomalies would be displayed via geographical maps, charts and infographics only.

The AFA indicates that Datacros is currently under testing with real-life scenarios.  The Restricted Area is being tested by representatives of law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption authorities, whereas the Public Area is being tested by representatives of civil society, such as investigative journalists, non-governmental organizations, and citizens.

Following the test phase, the tool will be refined based on the feedbacks collected and the project should be completed in the first quarter of 2021. 

Questions remain about how public would the public area be and what use anticorruption agencies would make of this new tool.  However, the establishment of the NCPA and this ongoing work is another illustration that the level of cooperation is at all-time high.

Contributors

Image: Nicola Bonucci
Nicola Bonucci
Partner, Litigation Department