Ambassador Max Baucus Brief Remarks to the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET)

Thank you, Mr. Chairman for your kind introduction.  And thank you all for being here today.  It is an honor to address the distinguished APEC delegates and guests.

On behalf of President Obama and Secretary Kerry, I want to thank Vice Minister FU and the Chinese government for their very warm hospitality.  We appreciate your focus on combatting international corruption and bribery.

Last November in Bali, our leaders agreed to tackle corruption.   This was not an idle agreement.

We’re here today to act on that commitment.  The clock is ticking.  We must take concrete action on corruption before the Leaders’ Summit in November.

Why is fighting corruption so important?

Whether it is bribery, embezzlement, or the misuse of public funds, corruption is corrosive.

It erodes the public’s confidence.  And it undermines our economies.

Corruption has real costs.  It scares investors and stifles economic growth.  It decreases investment and trade.  And that costs jobs for people in all of our countries.

In fact, experts calculate that corruption worldwide costs our economies $2.6 trillion.

That’s more than 5% of global GDP!

And by some estimates, corruption increases the cost of doing business by at least ten percent.

We can’t afford this waste.

But the impact of corruption on our societies runs even deeper.

Countless studies link corruption to increasing levels of poverty and income inequality.

For example, corruption diverts public funds away from schools, hospitals, roads, water, power plants, and other basic infrastructure.

That’s why this fight is so important.

During my first five months as Ambassador representing the United States, I’ve had the privilege to engage many Chinese leaders who are committed to fighting corruption.

As President XI underscores, “punching tigers and swatting flies” will build public trust.   Last year, China’s anti-corruption campaign led to the investigation of 173,000 corruption cases, and 9,600 criminals transferred to judicial authorities.

China and other APEC members are working to enhance their anti-graft measures at home.

But criminals don’t stop at borders.  So we must work together to stop them and fight graft internationally as well.

These meetings are an important first step.  This is the start of a meaningful exchange of strategies to combat corruption and bribery.

Later in today’s program, U.S. law enforcement experts will share the ways our agencies tackle corruption.

For the cynics who don’t believe nations can work together to combat the scourge of foreign bribery, I have 88 million reasons to the contrary.

This success is the result of stellar cooperation between the U.S. Department of Justice and Indonesian law enforcement authorities on the Tarahan case.

You’ll hear more about that case later today.

Collaboration between the United States and Indonesia led to the successful conviction of an Indonesian Member of Parliament.

Four American company executives also pled guilty, along with a Japanese corporation involved in the bribery.

And they paid 88 million dollars in criminal penalties.

Prosecution of bad actors is obviously important.

But even more important — we need to adopt international best practices of transparency and rule of law.

To move our APEC mission forward in stamping out corruption, we must adopt the APEC Principles on Anti-Bribery Laws and the APEC Corporate Compliance Programs.

This will send a strong message when our senior leaders meet this November.

The Obama Administration takes a firm stand against American and foreign companies that engage in bribing foreign officials to obtain or retain business.  Other economies here do this as well.

In the United States, one of the most effective tools we use to combat corruption is enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  We pursue corruption at many levels:

  • corporations, both big and small;
  • everyone from sales agents to CEOs;
  • U.S. and foreign companies;
  • citizens and foreign nationals; and
  • direct payers and intermediaries.

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken in $3.4 billion from criminal fines, penalties and forfeitures.

And the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has seized another $1 billion of profits obtained by illegal or unethical acts over the last ten years.

Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken in $3.4 billion from criminal fines, penalties and forfeitures.

As a result, more American companies have changed the way they do business.  Companies are now more willing to voluntarily disclose corrupt behavior and report on solicitations for bribes.

I’m also proud that the United States and China have worked together to combat corruption and crime, including through the Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation.

We were pleased that China amended its criminal law to prohibit foreign bribery.

We look forward to working with China and other APEC economies to continue leveling the playing field for companies that play by the rules.

The United States also shares APEC’s commitment to intensifying cooperation to deny safe havens to corrupt officials and their illicit assets.  Close law enforcement cooperation and sharing of information is essential to this process.

Since 2005, the United States has seized another $1 billion in illicit assets from corrupt foreign officials seeking safe haven.  In these cases, we work with international partners to repatriate funds to their rightful owners.

In closing, the United States is committed to ensuring APEC markets are free of corruption.

At the APEC Summit in Beijing this November, I am certain Presidents Obama and Xi, working with other APEC leaders, will praise your efforts.

Thank you for being here today and for strengthening APEC efforts to combat corruption and bribery.

I know that you will seize this critical opportunity.  I look forward to seeing the results of your work.