Fighting Corruption in Contexts of Fragility: IACA at the OECD Forum

IACA participated in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum in Paris last week, with visiting lecturer and alumna Malika Aït-Mohamed Parent speaking in a panel discussion on Managing Corruption Risks in Contexts of Fragility.

“Fighting corruption in contexts of fragility is about saving lives,” stated Ms. Aït-Mohamed Parent, former Under-Secretary General of Governance and Management Service at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, a graduate of IACA’s Master in Anti-Corruption Studies programme, and a former IACA research fellow.

In her guest article on this topic before the Forum, she highlighted the estimated extent of aid-related corruption and outlined examples of this in the humanitarian sector. During the session last week she touched upon the lack of analysis in relation to project partners’ capacity to spend what are often significant amounts of money, especially during emergencies.

Ms. Aït-Mohamed Parent also noted the importance of dispelling the “myth of goodwill”, or the general notion that people working in the aid sector are “good” and therefore not vulnerable to corrupt practices, since this myth can lead to a lack of scrutiny of aid organizations’ internal control mechanisms.

Other speakers during the session, including H.E. Mr. Sarwar Danish, the Vice President of Afghanistan, and John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, discussed the politicization of anti-corruption efforts in general and the need for safeguards to ensure integrity in projects in fragile contexts. The panel was moderated by Joel Turkewitz of the World Bank and Melissa Khemani (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and Yama Torabi (Head, Afghanistan Special Secretariat of Anti-Corruption) also participated as panel members.

In addition, the OECD Forum provided an opportunity for friends of IACA including alumni, members of its frequent visiting faculty, and former colleagues, to gather and discuss their own anti-corruption and compliance perspectives.

The Forum, which this year took the theme of “Planet Integrity: Building a Better Society”, featured speakers including senior government officials, heads of international organizations, and diverse civil society representatives and academics, and provided a platform for anti-corruption practitioners and researchers to discuss current trends.

IACA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the OECD in July 2014 and continues to collaborate closely with the organization. 

Read more about the OECD Forum and watch some of the recorded sessions here.

IACA will be represented at several other important conferences this year, including the Eighth Summit of the Americas, the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocols thereto, and the International Anti-Corruption Conference in Copenhagen in October. Details of participation in other fora will be announced through our website and social media channels: FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Alumni Reunion at IACA this July: Register Now

IACA Alumni are warmly invited to the fifth Alumni Reunion, which will take place at our Laxenburg campus on 5 and 6 July 2018 in parallel with our renowned Summer Academy.

Each year we welcome our alumni network of individuals who have completed IACA’s academic or training programmes to attend our popular Reunion, a two-day event offering fantastic networking opportunities and compelling lectures presented by global anti-corruption and compliance experts.

This summer, we are proud to announce that sharing their latest insights on hot anti-corruption issues will be Michael Johnston, Distinguished Professor at IACA, Charles A. Dana Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Colgate University, and a pioneer in the anti-corruption field, Paul Myers, a British investigative journalist, Tina Søreide, a member of IACA’s Frequent Visiting Faculty and also Professor of Law and Economics at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), and Rebecca B. L. Li, a consultant on anti-corruption and corporate governance and former acting Head of Operations of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

An exciting highlight this year is the opportunity for alumni to contribute to the official Alumni Reunion 2018 programme by becoming one of the speakers. All interested alumni should apply to IACA by sending their proposal to by 31 May. IACA will choose the three best topics for the selected alumni to present during the Reunion. More details are available here.

The Reunion offers alumni a chance to meet anti-corruption and compliance practitioners from diverse backgrounds, mingle with and learn from leaders in the field, and catch up with old friends. Starting with an optional informal get-together in Vienna on the evening of 4 July, the programme also includes a festive gala dinner together with IACA Summer Academy participants and students in the International Master in Anti-Corruption Compliance and Collective Action (IMACC) programme.

Some fee discounts are available, and we are also offering a package price for those interested in attending both the Alumni Reunion and our Best Of Seminar featuring Tina Søreide on 3 – 4 July. Read about the discounts and package here.

For more details about the Reunion and to register, click here.

Apply Now: Anti-Corruption and Compliance Master’s for Business Professionals

IACA’s two-year International Master in Anti-Corruption Compliance and Collective Action (IMACC) starting in 2019 is now open for applications.

The IMACC is the world’s first degree programme specifically designed for professionals involved with the business sector in the fields of anti-corruption compliance and collective action. The first cohort of the IMACC, comprising students from four continents, started its studies in late 2017 and was on campus in January 2018 for the in-class part of Module I.

The first IMACC class comprises compliance officers, anti-corruption practitioners, auditors, lawyers, and government officials, among others.

As an in-career academic degree programme, the IMACC allows students to deepen their knowledge and skills while continuing to work and support their companies and organizations. Graduating students receive an internationally recognized MA degree with 120 ECTS credits under the European Higher Education Area (“Bologna Process”).

The programme consists of six modules and a final project or thesis. Classes take place approximately every three months at the IACA campus in Laxenburg, Austria (Vienna area) and may include study visits to other locations worldwide.

As noted by Klaus Moosmayer, Chief Compliance Officer of Siemens AG, “The IMACC offers compliance and anti-corruption professionals a unique opportunity to sharpen their skills and stimulate Collective Action thought leadership through a programme that joins theory to practice”. Read what others have to say about this innovative degree programme here.

Topics covered include implementing best practices in anti-corruption and compliance, identifying and mitigating various types of risks, conducting internal investigations, doing business based on the highest ethical standards, the opportunities, challenges, and risks for compliance programmes due to recent disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, and initiating and managing collective action.

Some fee discounts are available under IACA’s Discount Scheme for Parties and Alumni. IACA is also offering a limited number of scholarships to applicants from Least Developed Countries (as defined by the United Nations).

Read more about the IMACC and how to apply here.

Mauritius Joins IACA

With the accession of Mauritius to the Agreement for the Establishment of IACA as an International Organization, the Academy’s constituency increases to 73 Parties. These comprise 70 UN Member States and three international organizations. The Agreement remains open for ratification by its remaining original Signatories and for accession by all UN Member States and international organizations.

Vienna Event on US and UK Anti-corruption Laws

IACA warmly invites you to an interactive discussion in Vienna on 11 April with Prof. Andy Spalding, a member of its Frequent Visiting Faculty, on the theme of Out of reach of US and UK anti-corruption laws? THINK AGAIN. 

Prof. Spalding, who is also a Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog, will discuss how new enforcement policies may be expanding the extraterritorial reach of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and UK Bribery Act.

In his talk he will consider various criticisms of modern anti-bribery enforcement and explore how current enforcement trends can now affect clients residing well beyond the US, including in Central and Eastern Europe.

The event is jointly organized by IACA and the American Bar Association Section of International Law (ABA SIL) Vienna Chapter, and is being hosted by the KNOETZL law firm.

Further details, including how to register, are available below and in this flyer:

IACA ABA event with Andy Spalding 11 April 2018 (PDF)

Date: Wednesday 11 April 2018

Time: 14:00

Venue: KNOETZL, Herrengasse 1, A-1010 Vienna, Austria

Registration: Please register in advance by emailing Anthony Hernandez at

Indonesian Audit Board Officials at IACA

A senior delegation from the Audit Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BPK) visited IACA on Monday to explore ways of intensifying existing cooperation between the two organizations in the area of anti-corruption and compliance education.

Discussion themes included, among others, encouraging the continued participation of BPK officials in IACA’s programmes and trainings.

The BPK delegation, which was headed by its Vice Chairman, Mr. Bahrullah Akbar, provided an overview of the Audit Board’s current activities and received an update on the latest developments at IACA.

As the external auditor of state finances in Indonesia, the BPK has a mandate to examine the management and accountability of these finances freely and independently.

IACA has previously delivered two tailor-made trainings for BPK officials that focused on public-sector auditing issues.

Austrian Foreign Minister Visits IACA

H.E. Ms. Karin Kneissl, the Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, paid her first official visit to IACA on Thursday to discuss potential further cooperation on projects related to anti-corruption and compliance, including during Austria’s EU presidency in the second half of 2018.

The Minister’s bilateral discussions with Mr. Martin Kreutner, Dean and Executive Secretary, reaffirmed the strong ties between IACA and the Republic of Austria, which is the organization’s host country and one of its initiating partners.

H.E. Ms. Kneissl emphasized Austria’s continued commitment to fighting corruption both nationally and internationally, adding that enhanced international cooperation is essential to developing sustainable solutions in this area.

Mr. Kreutner then updated the Minister on the many current and upcoming developments at IACA, including the new master’s programme for business professionals in anti-corruption, compliance, and collective action, and the large number of other programmes and trainings already scheduled for 2018.

H.E. Ms. Kneissl was the guest of honour at the organization’s seventh anniversary celebrations on campus earlier in the day.

Seventh Anniversary Celebrations at IACA

IACA celebrated its seventh anniversary as an international organization on 8 March by welcoming dozens of ambassadors and other prominent guests to a festive reception at its Laxenburg campus. The guest of honour was H.E. Ms. Karin Kneissl, the Austrian Federal Minister for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs, representing IACA’s host country.

Also present were numerous other members of the diplomatic community, senior representatives of the county of Lower Austria, senior figures from Vienna-based international organizations, members of IACA’s Board of Governors, prominent officials from Austrian federal authorities and the municipality of Laxenburg, along with many IACA faculty, staff, and alumni.

In her address to the guests, H.E. Ms. Kneissl reiterated Austria’s strong support for IACA, which she described as “a centre of excellence and a hub of expertise and information sharing”.

“Austria will continue to give priority to fighting corruption, both internally and externally. We have committed ourselves to this Academy, we appreciate IACA’s achievements over the past several years, and we are proud to serve as its host country,” she emphasized.

Mr. Martin Kreutner, Dean and Executive Secretary, shared some of IACA’s many highlights from the past 12 months, including the successful sixth session of the Assembly of Parties (AoP) hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Sharm El Sheikh in October 2017.

Other achievements included the IACA Regional Summer Academy – Middle East in Kuwait last December  and the recent start of the new International Master in Anti-Corruption Compliance and Collective Action (IMACC) for business professionals. In addition, IACA is going to launch the world’s first PhD programme in anti-corruption studies, with a small initial enrolment of students.

Mr. Kreutner also highlighted the latest explicit recognition of IACA’s work in a United Nations Resolution, this time by the Human Rights Council of the UN General Assembly in June 2017, as well as the continued expansion of IACA’s alumni network to (currently) 155 countries and jurisdictions.

Turning to the global situation, he expressed concern about current mounting geopolitical tensions as well as the emergent disintegration of formerly stable political environments, and in particular a growing “crisis of multilateralism and international cooperation” in dealing with multiple threats.

“A concerted global fight against corruption is essential if the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is to be realized. Thanks to the support and the spirit of cooperation shown by all our stakeholders, IACA is making — and will continue to make — a substantial contribution in this regard. So as we celebrate today, let us further intensify our joint efforts in this vital cause,” he concluded.

H.E. Mr. Omar Amer Youssef, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the International Organizations in Vienna (African Group) and President of the sixth session of the AoP, reiterated that his country was honoured to host the Assembly as part of its commitment to all international efforts against corruption and its appreciation of the work of IACA.

Thanking IACA’s constituency for its fruitful cooperation, H.E. Mr. Youssef said that the successful outcome of the Assembly would positively contribute to strengthening the organization’s future work and objectives.

His address was followed by a further expression of support from Prof. Dr. Pakdee Pothisiri, the Vice Chairperson of IACA’s Board of Governors, who chaired the most recent Board meeting on 7 March .

Dr. Pothisiri thanked his fellow Board members for their hard work and commitment, adding that the existing spirit of friendly and amicable partnership between the Board and IACA’s other organs and stakeholders is allowing for the organization’s future fruitful development.

IACA was initiated by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), INTERPOL, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the Republic of Austria, and other stakeholders. It became an international organization on 8 March 2011 and presently has a constituency of 72 Parties, including three international organizations.

IACA Board of Governors Meets

The IACA Board of Governors held its first meeting of the year on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming independent external audit of the organization as well as preparations for the seventh session of the Assembly of Parties later in 2018, among other matters.

The external auditors are appointed by the Board of Governors from senior members of national supreme audit institutions or other suitable institutions of volunteering Parties. All external auditors, operating as a collegial body, act in their personal capacity and enjoy functional and organizational independence in conducting the audit.

In their deliberations on Wednesday, Board members also considered current institutional and academic developments at IACA.

The meeting was chaired by Prof. Dr. Pakdee Pothisiri, the Vice Chairperson of the Board. Members serve in their individual capacity and come from all regions of the globe, as well as from the United Nations.

Apply Now: Tailor-made Training for EAEU Practitioners

IACA is now welcoming applications for its third annual tailor-made training for anti-corruption and compliance practitioners from Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) Member States, which will take place at the Academy’s Laxenburg/Vienna campus from 24 to 26 September 2018.

Professionals who are citizens of the five EAEU Member States — Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and the Russian Federation — are eligible to apply. The training is co-sponsored by the Russian Federation.

The programme is specifically designed to build a common knowledge base and strengthen regional capacities to combat corruption, and follows previous trainings in 2016 and 2017.

Previous EAEU training lecturers included experts from Austria, Bangladesh, Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom. The faculty for this year will be announced soon.

eaeu news 1 2 updatedIn addition to having the opportunity to learn from and interact with world-class professors and practitioners, participants will go on a study visit to the Vienna International Centre (United Nations Office in Vienna).

The customized programme combines theory and practice, aiming to strengthen practitioners’ capacities to better understand international and regional best practices, develop effective ethics and integrity mechanisms, and mitigate cross-sectoral risks. Topics will include, among others, international anti-corruption legal measures, the region’s experience in combating corruption, conflict of interest management, public procurement, and public-private partnerships.

Participants will subsequently join IACA’s alumni network of anti-corruption and compliance professionals in 155 countries and jurisdictions.

Tailor-made trainings are IACA’s customized programmes for specific organizations, corporations, or institutions, addressing the unique challenges that each one faces in preventing and fighting corruption. Several such trainings are scheduled for the coming months; learn more about the Academy’s tailor-made training programmes here.

Read more about the EAEU training and apply here.

IACA Compliance and Collective Action Seminar

Last week, IACA delivered a two-day seminar designed for anti-corruption compliance and collective action professionals on The External Investigator’s Perspective in Regulatory Compliance Investigations.

Topics covered included typical gaps in compliance programmes, identification of suspicious counterparties and transactions, and risks and hazards of multiple investigations and prosecutions. The seminar also included separate panel discussions on the evolving regulatory landscape and cross-border investigative collaboration.

Renowned international lecturers from Europe, North America, and Asia provided practical insights from their diverse experiences, leading to rich discussions among participants.

This was the first in a series of seminars on compliance and collective action for professionals involved with the business sector in these fields. Details of subsequent sessions will be published soon.

Managing Corruption Risks in Contexts of Fragility

Guest article | IACA Visiting Lecturer Malika Aït-Mohamed Parent will be a panellist at the upcoming Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum in Paris on 27 and 28 March. In this brief article she discusses the extent of corruption in the humanitarian sector and provides an overview of the main corruption risks in aid.

Corruption kills

Did you know that in 2016, according to a report by Global Humanitarian Assistance, 27.3 billion USD was dedicated to international humanitarian assistance? And, as reported by IRIN news agency, the relief aid economy is worth 156 billion USD.

“30% of aid is lost to corruption,” said Ban Ki-moon (at the time, Secretary-General of the United Nations) at the closing session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council 2012 High Level Panel on Accountability and Transparency.

30% of 156 billion USD!

I leave it to you to calculate how much that makes.

Consider, for just one minute, how many corrupt opportunities this kind of financial volume offers for organized crime.

Let’s not be naïve:  grand corruption schemes exist in the aid sector.

What kind of corruption is involved?

There are multiple definitions and they differ depending on the stakeholder (economists, civil society, politicians… you name it).

Regardless of your definition, as humanitarian workers, it is our duty to understand corruption mechanisms and thus be able to fight corruption and corruption risks in aid; to stay vigilant and set up robust systems that are effective and transparent.

 Concretely speaking, what are the main corruption risks in aid?

As with any kind of business, they could relate to:

• Weak procurement systems

• Cash transactions

• Currency transactions

• Insurance fraud

• Money laundering via obscure donors

• Gifts with quid pro quo

• Kickbacks

• Intermediary services

• Customs clearance, etc.

And more specifically in the aid context :

• “Ghost lists” (ghost volunteers who receive per diems, ghost events, ghost staff, etc.)

• “Double-dipping” (obtaining funds from more than one donor for a project)

• “Sextortion” (extortion that involves sexual acts or images as currency)

• Governance set-up allowing nepotism

• Urgency to spend (at the end of the funding cycle, some unnecessary expenses generate waste)

• Lack of control over financial systems of secondary partners for implementation; lack of comprehensive reporting;

• Lack of due diligence practice

• Security payments at check points, etc.

This is an incomplete list, and any single item relates to a more complex scheme.

How can corruption be stopped in such a context? Not easy to answer in such a short blog. For a constructive discussion and some ideas, consider attending the “Managing Corruption Risks in Contexts of Fragility” parallel session at the OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum (28 March 2018; 14:00-15:30). 

Protecting the aid sector from corruption risks is everyone’s duty, since all of us have a stake in fighting corruption, and in this case, preventing corruption can contribute to alleviating human suffering.


Malika Aït-Mohamed Parent is an independent international anti-corruption expert, visiting lecturer at IACA, and former Under Secretary General of Governance and Management Services of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

With 30 years of experience in the humanitarian sector, she is committed to developing institutional accountability frameworks embracing transparency and integrity elements as well as soft and hard components of fraud and corruption prevention and control.

© 2021 IACA. Developed by IACA.