APEC Ministers have endorsed a package of actions to enable Member Economies to better investigate, prosecute and recover assets of officials and Individuals guilty of public corruption.
TheĀ "APEC Anticorruption and Transparency Course of Action" identifies a number of concrete actions, including calls to Member Economies to deny safe haven to officials and individuals found guilty of public corruption and those who corrupt them.
The package also requires greater regional cooperation on issues of extradition, mutual legal assistance and the recovery and return of proceeds of corruption.
Chair of the Ministers' Meeting, Ignacio Walker, praised the overwhelming support of ministers for APEC anti-corruption efforts and described the package as historic.
"Corruption is a scourge that imposes heavy costs to all economies and undermines business confidence," Minister Walker said.
"The Course of Action endorsed today demonstrates APEC's commitment to combat this scourge. Now we look forward to APEC Leaders advancing APEC's anti-corruption agenda this weekend.
"Corruption is a complex economic, political and social problem that has destructive repercussions on every sphere of our societies. Corruption is a moral challenge that threatens democracy and economic growth, as well as the integrity of our institutions and our social values.
"As the World Bank has noted, the direct costs of bribery alone to national economies is over one trillion dollars each year.
Minister Walker also welcomed the support of theĀ APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) which is promoting a private sector initiative to combat corruption.
The ABAC Chair for 2005, Mr Jae Hyun Hyun of Korea, said the business community represented by ABAC notes the importance of this APEC initiative and put its full support behind the package.
"Business welcomes the initiative of the APEC Anticorruption and Transparency Course of Action because it promotes business activities through securing fair competition," Mr. Hyun said.
"APEC's initiative on anticorruption and transparency will open a new era of business and commerce if it is implemented uniformly by APEC governments."
Robert Prieto, Senior Vice President of Fluor Corporation, and USA ABAC Representative, said the package will reduce a heavy burden restraining business development.
"We welcome the initiative of APEC Ministers in battling corruption which is one of the primary 'taxes' on business and an enormous burden on social and economic development throughout the region."