New Delhi: The ratification by India of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) won praise at the Summit of the world's 20 leading economies (G20) at Cannes and was hailed as one of the "most significant" individual achievements in the fight against graft.

A note circulated by the French Presidency at the just concluded summit mentioned this while noting how G20 member countries have begun work in areas including the recovery of assets, the fight against money laundering, whistleblower protection and the functioning and independence of anti-corruption agency.

The Indian action figured in the list of eight "most significant" individual achievements that was carried out by the G20 members and mentioned in the note titled "Fighting Corruption."

On the sidelines of the Summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said India's concerns on corruption were reflected in the communiqué.

"If you go by the communiqué these are concerns which are shared by all the members of the G20. The communiqué reflects those concerns on corruption. And they welcome our ratification of the UN convention on corruption," he told reporters. India ratified the Convention in May this year.

The decision by Russia to join the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public officials in International Business Transactions and the entry into force in China of a law criminalising international corruption also figured in the list.

The French Presidency noted that the G20 has made major progress in the fight against corruption since the Seoul Summit in November 2010. The G20 communique said corruption is a major impediment to economic growth and development.

"We have made significant progress to implement the G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan," it said.

The leaders of the G-20 also reaffirmed their commitment to combat the menace of corruption and to providing a clean business environment.

"We have made significant progress in implementing the Action Plan on combating corruption, promoting market integrity and supporting a clean business environment," the communique said.

"We underline the need for swift implementation of a strong international legislative framework, the adoption of national measures to prevent and combat corruption and foreign bribery, the strengthening of international cooperation in fighting corruption and the development of joint initiatives between the public and the private sector," it added.

After India's ratification, Singh had said it is a reaffirmation of the government's commitment to fight corruption and to undertake vigorously administrative legal reforms to enable its law-enforcement agencies to recover the illicit assets stolen by corrupt practices.

A US-based Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development praised Singh for asking G20 to take the lead on introducing automatic information exchange to herald a new era of transparent international financial relationships.
     
The Task Force Director Raymond Baker also welcomed new anti-bribery measures in Indonesia, China and India which could help bring about much needed transparency and go a long way towards ending the underlying problems of financial secrecy.

(Agencies)