According to reports, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said corruption weakens countries’ efforts to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth that could improve the lives of the people.
The consequences of corruption formed the basis of the keynote address delivered yesterday by the Managing Director of the Fund, Christine Lagarde at this year’s International Bar Association (IBA) Conference in Washington DC, United States of America (USA).
Lagarde, a lawyer, said public sector corruption is hard to measure; yet its economic and social costs are substantial and afflict economies at all stages of development.
Addressing over 6, 000 IBA delegates, she charged lawyers to embrace transparency in carrying out their functions.
She said: “The annual costs of bribery alone-a subset of corruption-is estimated at a massive $1.5 to $2.0 trillion, roughly two per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And the impact goes well beyond these direct costs.”
She urged lawyers to shun corruption and ensure appropriate legal frameworks are put in place to tackle the vice.
“Addressing corruption and unethical behavior involves not only improving the quality of the legal framework but also the quality of the individuals who implement this framework,” she maintained.
On what IMF is doing to arrest the situation, Lagarde said the institution for the past two decades, has been actively engaged with member countries in addressing corruption.
“Our experience has shown that mitigating corruption requires a holistic and multifaceted approach, tailored to the specifics of each country,” she declared.
President of the IBA, Mr. David Rivkin noted that the year has been a challenging one for lawyers around the world. According to him, lawyers and judges have been imprisoned, disbarred and removed from office in China, Turkey, Venezuela, Egypt and elsewhere.
The IBA chief charged lawyers to be better ambassadors of the profession maintaining that one way to benefit lawyers under attack is for all to do a better job, explaining to the general public the important role that they play in defending everyone’s liberties, the time and expense they commit to defending those who cannot afford to pay them, and in making the law fairer and just for all.
Rivkin said: “By all means defend your clients’ interests, but do so in a way that respects the ethics and morality that we expect of one another. The law does not give us an excuse to turn a blind eye to what we know is right or wrong. In this respect, we will soon announce an important project to explore the proper ethical rules for lawyers in light of the disclosures of the Panama Papers, and also how government should properly fight corruption without infringing on the attorney-client privilege and professional secrecy that are vital to our serving our clients.”