Independent review into allegations of ethical misconduct at the Transparency International Secretariat concluded

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The Board of Directors of Transparency International has concluded the investigation into allegations of ethical misconduct at its Berlin-based Secretariat.

In August 2019, the Board of Directors of Transparency International commissioned an independent investigation by the law firm Taylor Wessing LLP. This decision was based on an earlier recommendation from the Board Ethics Committee, which had received formal complaints of alleged misconduct at the Secretariat. The scope of the investigation also included allegations of serious problems in the working environment at the Secretariat published in an article by The Guardian.

The Taylor Wessing investigation submitted its report to the Board in November 2019. To deal with the complaints not heard or not dealt with during the Taylor Wessing investigation, the Board created an independent Panel. The Panel submitted its report and recommendations in May 2020.

The conclusions of the reports highlighted that there were individual cases that might qualify for a breach of the TI-S Code of Conduct or TI values and its guiding principles. However, these behaviors did not constitute a systematical breach of the TI-S Code of Conduct or TI values and its guiding principles, but were related to lack of open communication. 

The investigators could not identify any proven facts that qualify for a systematically bullying, discriminatory behavior or a criminally-relevant harassment under TI rules and/or German law.  However, some individual incidents were identified in which the values/principles of transparency and accountability were not ensured entirely, and one case that might qualify as harassment at the workplace. 

The Ethics Panel highlighted that TI Staff, the Chapters and the Works Council were informed about its creation and roles, and therefore had the opportunity to approach the Panel. After the establishment of the Panel, the Works Council contacted the former staff who had approached it in 2018 and 2019 with complaints or information. The Panel talked to 13 staff members. They reported on their own experience, the experience of other staff or provided information which they considered potentially important for the Panel.

The Panel proposed a swift, complete implementation of the new integrity system with clear responsibilities for different types of complaints, and appealed to all participants to adhere to the procedures provided for there. Disputes between staff, or between staff and their manager, must be resolved within TI-S and normally do not constitute ethical conflicts. Employment law disputes must be clarified in the employment law processes provided for this.

The Panel concluded that new complaints were not anticipated and encouraged TI to look to the future, and all participants to emphatically support the new beginning.

The Board accepts, and is implementing along with the current management of the organisation, the conclusions and recommendations of the investigation.

Transparency International remains fully committed to the highest ethical standards, and we believe that systems and procedures are in place to ensure any issues related to ethics violations are dealt with swiftly and appropriately. This includes a robust integrity system and the Board’s Support Group on Safeguarding and Wellbeing.

NOTE: This statement published on 2 June 2020, and temporarily removed from publication on the evening of 9 June 2020, has been amended on 12 June 2020 by replacing copies of the three reports referenced in the statement with a summary (paragraphs 4 – 8 inclusive).

Paul Bell, Head of Communications

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