Does New Zealand law legitimise organised crime?

Published by University Canterbury

A University of Canterbury (UC) law professor warns that New Zealand’s limited enforcement of a global Anti-Bribery convention may leave us open to organised crime and corruption.

UC Law Professor John Hopkins warns that if New Zealand’s limited enforcement of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Anti-Bribery convention continues, we may find ourselves targeted by organised crime and corruption.

In the new Transparency International report ‘Exporting corruption’, New Zealand was identified as one of 33 exporters (totalling 52% of world exports) that have limited to no enforcement against foreign bribery.

Professor Hopkins, a director of Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) and one of the report’s authors, found that while New Zealand had a deserved reputation for integrity, there is much work still to do.

“We are still one of the countries that turns a blind eye to bribery when it occurs overseas.”

One example of this is that the law here continues to allow ‘facilitation payments’ – a practice which “undermines good practice and our good name”.

He encourages the government to tighten the law and better resource enforcement agencies to ensure overseas criminals cannot abuse New Zealand’s reputation.

“Although domestic corruption in New Zealand appears low, we really need to up our game in the way we respond to the threat of international corruption,” Professor Hopkins says.

“New Zealand is widely regarded as one of the least corrupt countries but we need to make sure our international approach lines up with that.”

Transparency International is the global civil society organisation against corruption. It is a non-political, non-partisan and not-for-profit incorporated society with charitable status.