New Podcast Episode, Featuring Frederik Obermaier

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, we are pleased to welcome back to the podcast the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Frederik Obermaier of the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung, who is also affiliated with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. We’ve been fortunate enough to have Mr. Obermaier on the podcast twice before, first in 2019 to discuss the Panama Papers, and then in 2020 to discuss the FinCEN Files. In this week’s episode, my ICRN colleague Christopher Starke talks with Mr. Obermaier about the work he and has collaborators have done on a set of stories based on another major leak, the so-called Suisse Secrets documents–files on thousands of customers of the Swiss Bank Credit Suisse, leaked by an anonymous source, which revealed that many Credit Suisse companies were extremely suspicious figures, including numerous corrupt politicians, as well as other organized crime figures and human rights abusers. The conversation highlights the systemic problems that continue to persist in the Swiss banking system, and more broadly. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends! And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.  

Guest Announcement: Invitation to Join the Symposium on Supranational Responses to Corruption

Today’s guest post is from Alexandra Manea, Legal Counsel at the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, and Jamieson Smith, the World Bank’s Chief Suspension and Debarment Officer.

Across the world, states play a fundamental role in shaping and enforcing the global anticorruption framework and agenda. But what happens when a state is unable to effectively counter corruption within its borders for various reasons? Are there supranational anticorruption mechanisms and remedies that could supplement the state’s response?

Experience shows that over the past two decades both public and private actors have developed supranational tools to tackle the “demand” and “supply” sides of corruption. A few examples include the sanctions systems of certain multilateral development banks, including the World Bank Group, which endeavor to protect development-intended funds from corruption by blacklisting corrupt contractors; the recently established European Public Prosecutor Office, designed to protect the European Union’s finances against corruption by prosecuting corrupt behaviors across EU member states; the exclusion mechanism of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the largest sovereign wealth fund with investments in over 9000 companies worldwide, that may divest from companies that engaged in corruption; and international corporations that have implemented robust integrity compliance programs across their affiliates at nationals levels.

To study these and other examples and to devise new opportunities for supranational remedies against corruption, a call for papers was launched last year, and was also published on this blog. We received hundreds of paper proposals from academics and practitioners from across numerous sectors and regions. The selected papers make up a rich agenda for our upcoming symposium, bringing together scholars and professionals from the private sector, international organizations, government, and civil society.  With this background, on behalf of the World Bank’s Office of Suspension and Debarment, the OECD’s Anti-Corruption Division, and the American Society of International Law’s Anti-Corruption Law Interest Group, we would like to invite all GAB followers to join the symposium on Supranational Responses to Corruption, on April 28-29, 2022. The event will be held in a hybrid format with about 30 presenters on site in Vienna, Austria, and hopefully with many of you attending online.

The main objective of the symposium is to study and reflect upon current and prospective anti-corruption efforts that transcend national boundaries or governments. The symposium will take stock of the current supranational anti-corruption mechanisms and standards, assess how to facilitate a multilateral understanding of these efforts, and discuss whether, to what extent, and how supranational anti-corruption institutions can move towards creating regional and/or transnational anti-corruption ecosystems that can effectively combat corruption irrespective of the actions, or lack thereof, of a specific state.

This symposium has been organized with the support of multiple organizations and professionals and we would like to thank them all for their valuable efforts in making this event possible. The International Anti-Corruption Academy, the World Economic Forum – Partnering Against Corruption Initiative, the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, and the OPEC Fund for International Development (event host in Vienna) provided important support.  Special thanks to GAB’s very own Matthew Stephenson, who generously helped us from the early stages through today, with sharpening the symposium’s focus, tailoring the agenda, and giving us the opportunity to invite GAB’s specialized audience to the symposium.

The full agenda is available here. You can register for April 28 here and for April 29 here. We hope to have many of you join the discussions!

New Podcast, Featuring Anastasia Kirilenko

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. During the ongoing emergency in Ukraine, as Russia’s unprovoked military aggression throws the region and the world into crisis, my colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN) and I featuring on KickBack experts who can shed greater light on how issues related to corruption relate to the ongoing crisis. And rather than keeping to our usual schedule of releasing new episodes every two weeks, we will release new episodes as soon as they are available. In the new episode, my ICRN colleague Christopher Starke interviews Anastasia Kirilenko, an investigative journalist and the co-producer of Putin and the Mafia, a documentary about Vladimir Putin’s connections with organized crime. In their conversation, Christopher and Anastasia discuss the themes of this documentary, and also discuss the role of media and civil society in Russia, the role of oligarchs in Russian politics, and what the international anticorruption community could do to more effectively promote change within Russia. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends. And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Anticorruption Bibliography–April 2022 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable form at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Svitlana Musiiaka

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. During the ongoing emergency in Ukraine, as Russia’s unprovoked military aggression throws the region and the world into crisis, my colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN) and I running a special series on KickBack, featuring experts who can shed greater light on how issues related to corruption relate to the ongoing crisis. And rather than keeping to our usual schedule of releasing new episodes every two weeks, we will release new episodes as soon as they are available. In the new episode, ICRN Member and guest host Oksana Huss speaks with Svitlana Musiaaka, a Ukrainian lawyer and anticorruption specialist who currently serves as the Head of Research and Policy at NAKO, an independent Ukrainian civil society organization that focuses on combating corruption in the defense and security sector. The conversation opens with a discussion of Ms. Musiaaka’s professional background and the work of NAKO, and then proceeds to how Ukraine has worked on reforming its defense sector to promote transparency and effectiveness. She also emphasizes how reforms in Ukraine have helped the Ukrainian military’s performance against the Russian army, and concludes by discussing what the international community can do to support Ukraine now. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends. And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Oksana Nesterenko

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. During the ongoing emergency in Ukraine, as Russia’s unprovoked military aggression throws the region and the world into crisis, my colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN) and I are going to try as best as we can to feature on KickBack experts who can shed greater light on how issues related to corruption relate to the ongoing crisis. And rather than keeping to our usual schedule of releasing new episodes every two weeks, we will release new episodes as soon as they are available. In the new episode, I was privileged to welcome to the podcast Oksana Nesterenko, Associate Professor of Law at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla and Executive Director of the Anti-Corruption Research and Education Centre. Professor Nesterenko was forced to leave Kyiv after the Russian attack, and she spoke with me from Poland, where she, like so many of her fellow citizens, is a refugee. In the first part of our conversation, Professor Nesterenko explains why the war between Russia and Ukraine is really a war of values, and why gradual reforms in Ukraine in the direction of liberal democracy and anticorruption threatened the Putin regime, and why this, rather than any actual military or security threat to Russia, is the real underlying reason for the Putin regime’s attempt to topple the current Ukrainian government. She also explains that Putin’s war is also an attempt to deflect domestic attention from his regime’s failures, including the government dysfunction caused by his corrupt approach to governance. She also provides an assessment of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s pre-war anticorruption efforts, emphasizing that from the perspective of anticorruption activists were disappointed in the lack of progress on some issues, but recognizing that as a politician he had to balance interests and demands from different stakeholders. In the final part of our conversation, we turn to the question of Russian (and Ukrainian) dirty money flowing into wealthy Western countries, and what more can and should be done to stop this. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends. And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

A Spirited Discussion of the Proposal To Create an International Anticorruption Court

As longtime readers of this blog are likely aware, over the years I’ve had the opportunity to participate in debates over the proposal to create an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC), modeled on but separate from the International Criminal Court. Though sympathetic to the motives behind this proposal, I have been consistently skeptical (see, for example, here and here). Despite skepticism from me and others, dogged and effective advocacy by IACC proponents have convinced some governments to formally embrace the idea. Perhaps most notably, in Canada both the Liberal and Conservative parties have endorsed the idea, and Canada’s Foreign Minister has been formally instructed by the Prime Minister to work with international partners to help establish an IACC.

Inspired by these developments, the Anti-Corruption Law Program at the University of British Columbia’s Allard School of Law held an online webinar two weeks ago on the proposal to create an IACC. I was invited to be a part of this conversation, along with three distinguished co-panelists: Juanita Olaya Garcia (a lawyer and member of the International Expert Panel for the Open Government Partnership), Peter MacKay (former Canadian Minister of Justice in the cabinet of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper), and Allan Rock (former Canadian Minister of Justice in the cabinet of Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien). Although we had quite diverse perspectives–with Mr. MacKay and Mr. Rock advocating for the IACC, and Ms. Garcia and I sounding more skeptical notes–the conversation, ably moderated by Roy Cullen, was, in my humble opinion, respectful and constructive, and I hope readers interested in this debate will find the discussion helpful in clarifying some of the important questions and issues that this provocative proposal raises..

Those who are interested can find a recording of the webinar here. (There are some introductory remarks at the beginning; for those who want to skip right to the substantive debate, that begins at about the 6:10 mark.)

Anticorruption Bibliography–March 2022 Update

An updated version of my anticorruption bibliography is available from my faculty webpage. A direct link to the pdf of the full bibliography is here, and a list of the new sources added in this update is here. Additionally, the bibliography is available in more user-friendly, searchable form at Global Integrity’s Anti-Corruption Corpus website. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Igor Logvinenko

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. During the ongoing emergency in Ukraine, as Russia’s unprovoked military aggression throws the region and the world into crisis, my colleagues at the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN) and I are going to try as best as we can to feature on KickBack experts who can shed greater light on how issues related to corruption relate to the ongoing crisis. And rather than keeping to our usual schedule of releasing new episodes every two weeks, we will release new episodes as soon as they are available. In the new episode, I had the opportunity to speak to Igor Logvinenko, Associate Professor at Occidental College and author of Global Finance, Local Control: Corruption and Wealth in Contemporary Russia. In the first part of our conversation, Igor discusses Russia’s Russia’s historical corruption and current financial integration into world business, and we then turn to the impact of the current sanctions on Russia–including government sanctions on Russia and Russian companies, actions by private companies, and the use of targeted individual sanctions and asset seizures. In addition to discussing these issues in the context of the current war, Igor also discusses more broadly the role of Western financial systems, international financial integration, and the possibility for locally-driven structural changes to fight grand corruption. You can also find both this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations: KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network (ICRN). If you like it, please subscribe/follow, and tell all your friends. And if you have suggestions for voices you’d like to hear on the podcast, just send me a message and let me know.

Corruption, Sanctions, and the War in Ukraine: A Short Interview in Harvard Law Today

My home institution’s in-house publication, Harvard Law Today, recently interviewed me on some of the topics we’ve been covering on this blog (see, for example, here, here, here, here, and here) and on the KickBack podcast (here and here) related to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. As I tried to emphasize in the interview itself, I am very far from an expert in many of the specific issues at the intersection of corruption and the Russia-Ukraine war, but I tried to pull together succinctly some of what I’d learned from conversations with actual expert over the last couple of weeks. For those who are interested, you can find the interview here.