Safeguarding Integrity in Sport: Fighting Webs of Corruption and Criminality

David Luna: SIGA is taking decisive leadership by mobilizing greater action and commitment

David M. Luna

President & CEO

Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC

Chair (Departing), OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade

Sport Integrity Forum

SIGA General Assembly

Lisbon, Portugal

July 26-27, 2017

 

Good afternoon.

It is an honor to be invited and to be with you this week in Lisbon and to share with you the important work of the OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade (TFCIT).

It was a little over six years ago that I was last here in this charming city. Then in my former capacity as a U.S. diplomat, I was working with the European Union and other partners from across the international community to strengthen cross-border cooperation on an array of trans-Atlantic security threats and challenges.

Among the valuable lessons that I have learned in advancing diplomacy around the world is that to make progress on combating transnational threats, collective action and public-private partnerships are critical as a force multiplier in assuring our common security, safeguarding public and market integrity, promoting the social good, and helping to make our world a better place.

Illicit trade is a growing security concern globally. This darker side of global trade is booming with hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit commerce every year that includes trafficking in narcotics, persons, endangered wildlife, and other illicit goods, commodities, and services.

Their convergence presents great harms and “wicked” threats to all societies as a whole:

  • threatening the health and safety of communities with deadly narcotics; or harming consumers with substandard products and counterfeits such as fake medicines, food, alcohol and defective automotive and aircraft parts;
  • exploiting our most vulnerable and desperate populations into forced labor or trafficking humans across borders into slavery;
  • bringing wildlife such as elephants, rhinos, and other iconic animals closer to the brink of extinction; or endangering our rainforests and planet through illegal logging, illicit fishing, the illegal dumping of hazardous and toxic materials, and other environmental crimes;
  • corrupting the integrity of sport through unregulated sports betting or money laundering;
  • and enabling lucrative illicit empires that finance webs of corruption and criminality, and acts of terrorism that create greater violence and insecurity around the world.

Simply put, illicit trade corrupts integrity across all facets of our daily lives, is an obstacle to our shared prosperity by siphoning revenue, capital, and human resources away from legitimate economic activity, and is a global security threat.

As mentioned, the governance and security challenges facing sport globally today are indeed profound and complex. In recent years, corruption, and criminal scandals such as those involving sporting bodies, have reminded us of their adverse harms to the public trust, as well as to the integrity and credibility of sport.

Of equal concern is the infiltration and involvement of organized crime in sports as an enabler of corruption. Organized crime networks push narcotics, steroids, doping, bribery, fraud, racketeering, game fixing, and other illicit activities as a source of profit, but also blackmail that enables them to continue to exploit once compromised officials.

As the cadre of public officials is corrupted additional pillars of society are imperiled: the rule of law, economic development and global security.  Transnational organized criminal groups also are increasingly targeting, capitalizing, and profiting from numerous illicit activities during major international sporting events such as, for example, the Summer and Winter Olympics, the FIFA World Cup, the NFL Super Bowl, and the Champions League Finals of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Similarly, child exploitation, human trafficking, and modern slavery are also very much intertwined with sport. As reported by the OECD TFCIT, and underscored in a 2015 report by the Global Initiative on Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC), across the developing world “the desperation of thousands of children to improve their lives has created an avenue for criminals, unscrupulous agents and clubs alike.” Unscrupulous recruiting practices of very young athletes across the spectrum of sport result in a host of harmful outcomes for the athletes, their family, and their communities.

The best way to combat these illegal threats is through coordinated and collective action and net-centric partnerships globally.

The OECD Task Force on Countering Illicit Trade, under the auspices of the OECD High-Level Risk Forum, which I have chaired these past five years, is working on advancing international public-private partnerships and regional dialogues that help inform communities on the harms, risks, and threats posed by illicit trade to our economies and communities.

The OECD TF-CIT focuses on evidence-based research and advanced analytics to assist policy-makers as they work to better map and understand the market vulnerabilities exploited and created by illicit actors, to identify tools to reinforce the most vulnerable points of entry to the illegal economy, and to better inform and empower law enforcement communities.

At this time, the OECD Task Force is particularly focused on building a public-private coalition to stem the abuses of Free Trade Zones, some of which are conduits for illicit trade. The Task Force has seen that some Free trade zones are attractive to the betting and gambling industries due to a lack of public access to critical company information, such as details of shareholders and beneficial owners. Make no mistake, the webs of corruption and criminality impact sport like all other industries, sectors, and markets.  No community is immune from these pernicious threats.  Together, we can help impacted communities to combat the dark side of global trade and related corruption and money laundering.

The Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) is taking decisive leadership by mobilizing greater action and commitment. I could not agree more with the comments by Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, SIGA Executive Coordinator, that through strength in numbers and dynamic public-private partnerships, we can all help the international community to promote the highest standards and values of honest governance and a “vision of a fair and clean future for sport”.

I applaud SIGA for taking active and positive steps to collaborate with the OECD TFCIT, and other committed international organizations and partners, to strengthen collective efforts to counter illicit trade globally and to safeguard the integrity of sport against corruption and criminality.

As departing OECD Chair, I also want to acknowledge the important contributions by SIGA, the International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS), Sorbonne Research Program on Ethics and Sport Integrity, to the TFCIT’s 2016 Report on “Illicit Trade: Converging Criminal Networks” especially on the economic crimes and manipulation influences of organized criminal syndicates in sport.

Finally, as President & CEO of Luna Global Networks & Convergence Strategies LLC, I am proud to announce today our partnership with SIGA, and moving forward, as a strong SIGA Committed Supporter to fight corruption and illicit trade, and to promote cultures of good governance and integrity around the world.

The purity in sport and the fair play in the administration of sport are noble ideals that should not be corrupted or tainted by criminal influences.

Thank you.

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