In London, ACRC head touts new anti-graft act

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In London, ACRC head touts new anti-graft act

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Lee Sung-bo, chairman of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission, third from right, stands for a photograph with participants of the second Korea-U.K. Anti-Corruption Seminar, held Friday in London. Provided by the commission

About 50 Korean and British government officials and businessmen discussed anti-graft measures in both nations on Friday during the second Korea-U.K. Anti-Corruption Seminar.

The London seminar was hosted by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) and supported by the Korean Embassy in the United Kingdom and the London office of the Korea Trade Promotion Corporation (Kotra).

“Taking into consideration that corruption is steadily becoming a globalized issue, I think it is significant that we can mutually share anti-corruption policies and cooperate more closely through joint projects between Korea and the U.K., which can set an example for the international community,” ACRC Chairman Lee Sung-bo said in his opening address.

He added that Korea’s National Assembly on March 3 had passed a new, tougher anti-corruption act after years of debate, which criminally penalizes a public official for receiving money or favors worth more than 1 million won ($912), even if it is unrelated to his or her position.

The new act covers entertainment more broadly to include expensive meals, golf games and paid vacations.

He also pointed out that since 1999, member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been subject to the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, which criminalizes bribery by foreign public officials in international business.

“Among the 34 OECD member states, Korea and the U.K. are countries that most stringently implement the convention on combating bribery,” Lee continued.

The seminar was part of the Korea-U.K. Anti-Corruption Partnership Initiative, a yearlong agreement between the commission and the British government that started last April.

It was a follow-up to the first seminar hosted by the ACRC in Seoul on Dec. 9 to coincide with the United Nation’s International Anti-Corruption Day.

According to the commission, the event aimed to provide guidance to Korean companies doing business overseas to avoid corruption risks.

Experts from the British Justice Ministry, the London-based British Standards Institution Group and Korea’s Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission also discussed Britain’s anti-bribery law.

The event was part of a three-day visit by Lee to Paris and London from Wednesday to share with OECD members information on Korea’s anti-corruption policies.

He also spoke at the OECD Integrity Forum in Paris, addressing some 200 people on Wednesday upon the invitation of OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria.

“It has been less than a month since this law passed the National Assembly, but there has been a lot of interest both domestically and internationally on our anti-corruption policy, and I could feel that there was high regard for Korea in this area,” Lee said while in London.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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