The Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation (OEB) interviewed Ms. Valentina Rigamonti, Senior Regional Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia, of Transparency International (TI), during her resent visit in Cyprus.

What is the Transparency International (TI) and what are its main objectives?
Transparency International’s approach to fighting corruption is systematic, holistic and inclusive. Moreover, one of its strengths, being a movement, is to bring together all the anti-corruption activists around the world with the aim to have a world in which government, politics, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption. Key aspects of TI’s works include, among others: analyzing and diagnosing corruption – measuring its scope, frequency and manifestations through surveys, indices and other assessment tools; analyzing economic, social and political factors that influence anti-corruption leadership and reforms.

What is the impact to the society and the business of TI’s activity?
Over the past decade it has become increasingly clear that greater and sustained progress in stopping corruption will depend on widespread public engagement and pressure. Such engagement will reinforce the demand for solid institutions and provide a strong mandate for political leadership to succeed in their commitment. Therefore, a common focus of TI as a Movement is to increase significantly the number of people and organisations involved in stopping corruption and promoting transparency, accountability and integrity around the world, as well as supporting them in their work against corruption. Corruption is a risk for multinationals on a number of fronts. Corruption destroys entrepreneurship, inhibits free markets and undermines the stability vital to successful economies. It also enables enormous flows of illicit money outside the real economy – in the form of unpaid taxes, bribes and laundered funds. Companies recognise this, but now more than ever before they must act to stop corruption. Transparency must be their resolute response, to address one of the root problems of the economic and financial crisis.

What was the purpose of your recent visit to Cyprus and what were you first conclusions?
Let me answer by explaining the structure of Transparency International. One of the main strengthens of TI is to be a movement made of 90 independent chapters around the world and one Secretariat based in Berlin. It is also important to remember that Chapters play a key role within the movement, because they are the real experts on corruption in the field and due to their work they are the main contributors to the mission of TI: the fight against corruption. Thus, my visit to TI-Cyprus is fundamental in order not only to strengthen the cooperation among TIs and the chapter, but also to increase the impact of the work of TI-Cyprus as being part of the movement.

What are you recommendations to the Cypriot businesses regarding transparency and corruption?
Let me answer by introducing the new ‘Transparency in Corporate Reporting’ report published on the 10th of July 2012. The report is a survey of the world’s 105 largest multinational companies taken from a list published by Forbes in 2010. It assesses the publicly available information on those companies in three different areas related to corporate reporting: anti-corruption programmes, organisational transparency and country-by-country reporting. It is important to note that the information a company reports built its anti-corruption system is an indicator of awareness and commitment to combating corruption. While robust disclosure practices do not necessarily reduce all risks of corruption, they are sign of the right tone from top management, reflecting an awareness of corruption risks that is essential for companies operating globally. By adopting greater corporate transparency – publicly reporting on activities and operations – companies provide the necessary information for investors, journalists, activists and citizens to monitor their behaviour. It is important to note that companies must have measures to have zero tolerance towards corruption. In doing that they can become members or sponsor of Transparency Cyprus and they will contribute to the efforts made by TI to reduce corruption not only in the country, but also worldwide.