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Can one whitelist potential customers via a central register?

Nigel Morris-Co...

The Basel Institute on Governance has had an interesting idea. Is it more than a pipedream?

"Does your company do business in emerging markets? Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could really rely on the certification of a local business partner in those markets? If you know you can trust the certifier and the certification process, due diligence will be quicker and easier - at least in theory."

That's the opening couple of sentences of the Basel (sic) Institute on Governance's introduction to a novel idea.

"The Basel Institute's International Centre for Collective Action is launching an innovative project to explore certification and its role in anti-corruption due diligence. "

First, let's start from the position that it's a great idea. And no, there is no sarcasm in that.

Now let's ask the hard questions.

1. if such a system is feasible, why is there no global, comprehensive, accurate list of past and present politically exposed persons made available free of charge at inter-governmental level. This would, surely, be the perfect starting point and would mean that organisations would not be dependent on commercial entities and the quality of their research or on the free to access USA list which is maintained only insofar as it relates to current post-holders. After all, under the Financial Action Task Force Guidelines, once a PEP, always a PEP.

2. If such a system is to be valuable, why is it to be limited to developing countries? Pragmatically, how will integrity be assessed in the vast populations of India, Indonesia and China, for example? The dangers of relying on even a range of public opinion has long been demonstrated by the "Corruption Perceptions Index" produced by Transparency International and which, while the darling of the media, is frequently regarded as a poor guide to the realities of corruption on the ground because largely, it depends on how people feel (and are prepared to admit feeling) about their government.

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