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News Flash - 20 September 2006

Council of Europe’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) publishes report on Azerbaijan

The Council of Europe’s anti-corruption monitoring mechanism, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has published today its Joint First and Second Round Evaluation Report on Azerbaijan (link to report). The report is made public with the agreement of the authorities of Azerbaijan.
The report concludes that in Azerbaijan corruption is a major problem. It commends the authorities of Azerbaijan for their comprehensive anti-corruption strategy, but points out that the challenging task of implementing the strategy still lies ahead. Moreover, several problem areas, such as the investigation of corruption offences and the organisation of public administration, require further efforts.
The report indicates that the limited co-operation and co-ordination by the various agencies involved in investigating and prosecuting corruption offences and the lack of a pro-active approach in investigating these offences are major obstacles to an effective fight against corruption. Furthermore, there is a need to provide for more training for all those concerned with the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of corruption offences and to ensure that the new anti-money laundering system becomes operational as soon as possible. In the area of public administration it should be a matter of priority for the authorities to amend the current provisions on gifts, to address actual and potential conflicts of interests, to establish a formal duty for all employees to report suspicions of corruption and to afford adequate protection to so-called ‘whistleblowers’. In addition, it is necessary to provide training to public officials and raise awareness with respect to access to information, to adopt a code of ethics for all public sector employees, and to ensure that the information contained in financial declarations submitted by both civil servants and officials can be verified. Finally, as regards commercial companies, the legal system in Azerbaijan does not provide for corporate liability. Consequently, it is necessary to establish corporate liability for the offences of bribery, money laundering and trading in influence and to provide for sanctions that are effective, proportionate and dissuasive, in accordance with the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173).
GRECO has addressed 27 recommendations to Azerbaijan. Measures taken by Azerbaijan to implement these recommendations will be addressed by GRECO in the context of a specific compliance procedure in the first half of 2008.