The BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group (Working Group) was founded in 2015, after the BRICS Leaders’ Ufa Declaration. The first nation to host a Working Group meeting was Russia. In 2018, South Africa served as the Working Group’s chair for the first time and oversaw the creation of the Asset Recovery Network. From there on, through rotating chairships, the Working Group explored and promoted the following issues: the use of civil and administrative means in the fight against cross-border corruption, cooperation in the pursuit of economic offenders related to corruption, and the initiative on Denial of Safe Haven to proceeds of corruption and crime.
The first BRICS Anti-Corruption Ministerial Meeting was held in 2022, and the Ministers present reaffirmed their commitment to advancing international anti-corruption cooperation 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 in 2023 and the Department of Public Service and Administration acts as coordinator and Secretariat. On 18 May 2023, the Working Group under the leadership of South Africa wrapped up its second meeting of the year 2023. Enhancing efficiency in retrieving stolen assets, utilizing public-private partnerships, and addressing gender and corruption is the top priority during South Africa’s chairship.
Members of the Working Group (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) supported the agenda of the South African presidency and pledged their cooperation to ensure that the Working Group achieves its objectives of anti-corruption coordination. This was also reflected in the Working Group’s initial meeting, which took place in person in India in February 2023. In this regard, some of the decisions taken by the Working Group include:
- South Africa to work with the representatives from the BRICS countries to explore the Public-Private Partnership on Asset Recovery Network. The importance of the member countries cooperating in joint investigations and asset recovery was emphasized with the aim of demonstrating the effectiveness of the collaboration when it comes to prioritizing asset recovery;
- BRICS Anti-Corruption training on the impact of corruption on gender and the intersections of gender and corruption is scheduled to take place in July 2023. Training will take place virtually over two days, to be attended by 25 practitioners across the BRICS Countries;
- BRICS Anti-Corruption Training for Practitioners will take place in June 2023 in Vienna, Austria. 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 other as lecturers come from across the BRICS Countries; and
- BRICS Roundtable on Gender and Corruption is in the planning stage and a concept note will be developed by the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group.
The 2023 activities will continue throughout the year and feedback and evaluation will be done during the meetings of the Working Group. South Africa expressed its gratitude for the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group’s collaboration.