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Ivory Coast - Corruption

Corruption in many forms is deeply engrained in public and private sector practices and remains a serious impediment to investment and economic growth in Cote d’Ivoire. Transparency International’s “Corruption Perception Index” ranks Cote d’Ivoire 107 of 168 countries. Many companies cite corruption as the major obstacle to investment in Cote d’Ivoire. It has the greatest impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues. Businesses report encountering corruption at every level of the civil service and with some judges who have based their decisions on bribes.

Obtaining an official stamp or copy of a birth or death certificate, or an automobile title, often requires payment of a supplemental "commission." If the commission is refused, the application is not processed. Clearance of goods at the ports can often require substantial “commissions” and the Embassy has heard anecdotal accounts of customs agents rescinding valuations that were declared by other customs colleagues in an effort to extract bribes from customers. Containers can stay at the Port of Abidjan for months, incurring substantial demurrage charges because of corruption within Customs.

For decades, the cocoa and coffee marketing board served as a political and personal slush fund for the party in power, its elites, and even French politicians, who would receive money from this fund when they had election campaigns in France. To say that these practices created very deleterious patterns that further contributed to the perception of politics as an all-or-nothing competition is an understatement. Over the past decade, the petroleum sector has become more lucrative than cocoa and coffee, and is in much greater need of reform. Initiatives like the World Bank-sponsored Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative offer a valuable model, but such an undertaking should be driven by Ivorian actors. The Ivorian judiciary and the legislature, should play central roles in drafting, enacting, enforcing and adjudicating Ivorian laws that will hold Ivorians to account for managing the country’s wealth responsibly and honestly.

President Ouattara has urged his government to fight against corruption and improve transparency and good governance. In 2013, the High Authority of Good Governance instituted a requirement that all public officials submit asset declarations. This operation is ongoing and as of April 17, 2016, 89.36 percent of 4,684 members of government and government-funded institutions had submitted asset declarations. It is not yet clear how those declarations will be reviewed or monitored or if penalties for non-compliance will be imposed.

There are domestic laws and regulations to combat corruption, but they are not effectively enforced. Penalties can range from incarceration to payment of civil fines. Government employees can be convicted of either passive or active corruption or bribery in the performance of their duties. The law also provides for punishment of government employees who benefit directly or indirectly from private or state-owned companies related to contracts, markets or financial payment under their purview. Company managers who are complicit in acts of corruption are treated as accomplices. A local company may not deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. Under the Ivoirian Penal Code, a bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a criminal act. Cote d'Ivoire ratified the UN Anti-Corruption Convention in November 2011; however, the country is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery.

Despite the government’s effort, corruption still remains a problem. Racketeering by some elements of the security forces continues. Transport companies are particularly hard hit, and trucks moving cargo from the western agricultural belt to Abidjan and between Abidjan and other regions of Cote d’Ivoire pay between $100 and $400 per trip as they pass various checkpoints, depending on the cargo. The government has been working to reduce illegal checkpoints, and in 2011 authorized only 33 legal checkpoints in the entire country as part of an anti-racketeering campaign. Still, some checkpoints remain visible in the interior of the country. The gendarmerie has established a new anti-corruption force which has led to a substantial reduction in police check points on major roadways, although bribery at checkpoints, official and unofficial, remains a significant problem that slows transport and greatly increases the costs of goods and services. In 2012, the Interior Ministry, with World Bank funding, established the Anti-Racketeering Unit (ULCR) within the National Police. However, the unit was never adequately funded in the budget and has not made much progress in addressing racketeering. The government launched an anti-racketeering hotline, but resources to investigate claims of racketeering are insufficient.

There are several governmental entities in charge of fighting corruption, including the General Secretariat in Charge of Good Governance and Capacity Building, the Board of State General Inspectors, the Finance Ministry's Inspector General's Office, and the High Authority for Good Governance, but these entities are underfunded have yet to reduce effectively the extent of the corruption problem.

In June 2013, the government’s National Committee for the Millennium Challenge Corporation initiated a billboard and television awareness campaign to educate Ivoirians on the dangers of corruption. At the same time, it held various workshops to discuss the causes of and solutions to the corruption problem. Effective on September 2013, an ordinance was adopted on the prevention and the fight against corruption. The country’s financial intelligence unit (Cellule Nationale de Traitement des Informations Financières – CENTIF) was established in December 2007, and is responsible for investigating money laundering and terrorist financing. CENTIF has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials.

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Page last modified: 05-10-2016 20:33:56 ZULU