The BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group (Working Group) was established in 2015 following the Ufa Declaration by the Leaders of the BRICS Countries.
Russia was the first Country to host the meeting of the Working Group. South Africa first chaired the Working Group in 2018 and steered the establishment of the Asset Recovery Network.
Under rotating presidencies, the Working Group explored and promoted issues of mutual concern to the members such as the use of civil and administrative means in the fight against cross-border corruption, collaboration in the pursuit of economic offenders related to corruption, and the initiative on Denial of Safe Haven to proceeds of corruption and crime.
In 2022, under the chairship of China, the Working Group hosted the first BRICS Anti-corruption Ministerial Meeting in which the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to promote cooperation on international anti-corruption matters in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other multilateral principles and norms.
Advocate Xolisile Khanyile, Director of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), chairs the Working Group on behalf of South Africa.
The Working Group under the chairship of South Africa concluded the first meeting of the 2023 calendar year on 28 February 2023. South Africa prioritised improvement of efficiency in recovering stolen assets, using the public-private partnerships, and gender and corruption.
This follows the successes recorded by the collaboration of the law enforcement agencies and the private sector through the formation of the South African Anti-Money Laundering Integrated Task Force (SAMLIT).
The Financial Action Task Force has revealed that countries are only recovering a fraction of the proceeds of crime and has encouraged countries to effectively collaborate and prioritise asset recovery.
South African Law enforcement agencies, such as the Asset Forfeiture Unit, South African Revenue Service, Special Investigation Unit, amongst others, are already making good progress in prioritising asset recovery supported by the FIC and the Directorate of Crime Investigation (commonly known as the Hawks).
Members of the Working Group supported this agenda and pledged their cooperation to ensure that the Working Group achieves its objectives of anti-corruption coordination. In this regard, some of the decisions taken by the Working Group include:
- South Africa should convene the meeting of the Asset Recovery Network to explore how the public-private partnership will be implemented across the five jurisdictions. The importance of the member countries cooperating in joint investigations and asset recovery was emphasized with the aim of demonstrating effectiveness of the collaboration when it comes to prioritising asset recovery.
- Joint training of Anti-Corruption Practitioners and Ethics Officers on the impact of corruption on gender and the intersections of gender and corruption, is scheduled to take place in July 2023. The Department of Public Service and Administration has been prioritizing this issue of gender and corruption following the launch of the Public Administration Ethics, Integrity, and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit (PAEIDTAU) in September 2021.Training will take place virtually over two days, to be attended by 25 practitioners across the BRICS Countries; and
- Joint training of Anti-Corruption Practitioners will commence in May 2023. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is coordinating the training on behalf of the Working Group. This training will also afford the practitioners and lecturers the opportunity to share experiences and learn from each as lecturers come from across the BRICS Countries.
The 2023 activities will continue throughout the year and feedback and evaluation will be done over the next two meetings of the Working Group.
South Africa appreciates the assistance of the Indian colleagues in facilitating and making sure that the first in-person meeting of the Working Group since the advent of Covid-19, took place in the margins of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group.