In May 1979 Commonwealth Law Ministers meeting in Barbados endorsed a report and set of proposals that had been commissioned from Prof Barry Rider OBE at their previous meeting in Canada in 1976. Here, they had recognised that the machinery for addressing the threats posed by transnational economically motivated crime were woefully inadequate and required addressing. One of the recommendations made by Prof Rider was for the development of a platform for all those engaged in the protection of their economies, whether at a policy level or at the coal face, to meet on a regular basis to candidly address issues relating to co-operation. It was, and remains, the view of those engaged in supporting the annual Cambridge symposium that meaningful co-operation and collaboration becomes more feasible and practical when built on the mutual trust and understanding of this platform.
Prof Rider was appointed by Commonwealth governments to take his proposals forward and the Commonwealth Secretariat, International Chamber of Commerce, and Universities of Cambridge and London initiated an annual programme of symposia at Jesus College, Cambridge. This initiative was strongly supported by numerous other inter-governmental and international organisations including ICPO-Interpol, the OECD, and the UN, together with many governments and institutions in both the public and private sectors.
Over the years the number of bodies supporting the symposium has grown and now ranges across a broad spectrum of institutions and agencies, as evidenced in the symposia’s programmes. However, this support has rarely manifested itself in direct financial contributions and therefore the symposium exists on a very limited annual budget consisting of registration fees and sponsorship.
The first symposium took place in 1982, in the Upper Hall of Jesus College, Cambridge with just over 200 participants. Last year nearly 2,000 participants attended all or part of the symposium. The reach of the symposium has always been much greater than merely those who attend. Papers presented at the symposium often find their way into print, in particular in the two official journals of the symposium: the Journal of Financial Crime and the Journal of Money Laundering Control. We have also had a dynamic programme of regional symposia over the years, which has included programmes in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Canada, Barbados, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Italy, Sweden, and Turkey.
The symposium, both directly and through its organising institutions, has also promoted and supported research and in particular facilitated initiatives in universities throughout the world. Consequently, over nearly 40 years the Cambridge symposium has made a major contribution in a number of ways to the debate on how best to address the dangers presented by economically motivated crime and misconduct.
While Commonwealth law ministers, and in particular the working group established under Mr Saul Froomkin OBE QC who was then HM Attorney General of Bermuda, played a significant role in the inception of the annual Cambridge symposium, it was never limited simply to Commonwealth jurisdictions. Over the years it has become truly international. Last year over 100 countries were represented. The People’s Republic of China has had a long history in supporting the symposium and in 2018 an agreement was entered into, with the endorsement of the Chinese government, to secure the financial viability of the symposium in the foreseeable future.
The Cambridge symposium was founded by Prof Barry Rider OBE who was first elected into a Fellowship at Jesus College, within the University of Cambridge, in 1976. From the start, the team planning and organising both the annual symposium and regional symposia was very small and until very recently, with the exception of a part-time manager (Mrs Angela Futter), did not receive any remuneration. With the support that has now been provided from China, the symposium has been able to recruit an additional manger (Ms Daniela Bowker).
The Centre for International Documentation on Organised and Economic Crime (CIDOEC) is an unincorporated, research-based network that is the primary vehicle through which the symposia are organised. CIDOEC is supported by the Organising Institutions of the symposium which consist of a number of leading universities and other relevant institutions throughout the world. A list of these is available in each programme.
Prof Rider has been the Executive Director and Co-Chairman of the symposium since its foundation and over the last decade Mrs Li Hong Xing (May), as the chief operating officer, has been primarily responsible for the development of the symposium. Mrs Angela Futter, who until 2019 was the general manager, is now primarily concerned with the programme and speakers while Ms Daniela Bowker is responsible for administration and marketing. Prof Chizu Nakajima has also been involved in the team for many years and supports Prof Rider.
Mr Saul Froomkin OBE QC, with the exception of the very first symposium (which was chaired by Sir Shridath Ramphall QC, Professor Sir Roy Goode QC, Mr Eric Ellen QPM, and Prof Barry Rider), has been the chairman of all programmes both in Cambridge and elsewhere. He is supported by Prof Rider, Mr Michael Ashe QC, and Sir Ivan Lawrence QC. Of course, over the years there have been many others, such as Sir Kenneth Warren, Prof Mads Andenas QC, and Sir John Mummery QC, who have lent their support and chaired specific sessions of the programme.
The symposium has been hosted by Jesus College–a College within in the University of Cambridge–since its foundation. Prof Rider has been a Fellow (now Fellow Commoner) of the College throughout this period.