New Podcast Episode, Featuring Lola Adekanye

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, my collaborators Nils Köbis and Christopher Starke interview Lola Adekanye, a Nigerian-American lawyer who currently leads the Business Integrity and Anti-Corruption Programs in Africa at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).

After discussing her own background and how she began working on anticorruption issues, Ms. Adekanye describes the work that CIPE does at the intersection of the private and public sector, including the advocacy of market-oriented reforms to drive up the cost of corruption and drive down the cost of compliance. More concretely, she describes some concrete anticorruption initiatives that CIPE has worked on, including the Ethics First initiative in Africa, which seeks to make due diligence screening and verification in Africa more feasible and effective. CIPE’s guidance to companies as to how to deal with bribery by firm employees emphasizes what Ms. Adekanye calls the the “three Rs”: (1) Giving firm employees clear and realistic instructions on how they should RESPOND to requests for bribes; (2) Ensuring that the compliance department RECORDs the bribe request and reports it to a higher level; and (3) REPORTING bribe requests to governments and business organizations, to provide a clearer picture of how bribery is distorting markets, lowering government revenue, and undermining government projects.

You can find the episode here. You can also find this episode and an archive of prior episodes at the following locations:

KickBack is a collaborative effort between GAB and the 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 Norm Eisen

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Norm Eisen, currently a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Mr. Eisen previously served as the White House Special Counsel for Ethics and Government during the Obama Administration, as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011-2014, and as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Mr. Eisen is also a founder and previous board chair of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which, among other activities, sued President Trump for allegedly receiving unlawful emoluments from foreign and state governments. My conversation with Mr. Eisen–like my conversation with my Jack Goldsmith last month–focuses primarily on what the Trump Administration has taught us about the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. system for constraining corruption, conflicts of interest, and other forms of wrongdoing by the President and senior members of the executive branch, as well as what kinds of institutional reforms and policy changes would help prevent such wrongdoing going forward. Mr. Eisen emphasizes the resilience of U.S. institutions in the face of the “stress test” provided by the Trump Administration, outlines some of the most important reforms he’d like to see adopted to address the corruption risks that Trump experience has highlighted, and discusses some of the international implications of this issue. You can find this episode here. 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 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 Doussouba Konaté and Moussa Kondo

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Doussouba Konaté and Moussa Kondo, who are, respectively, the Program Officer for the Accountability Lab and the Country Director for Accountability Lab Mali. (The Accountability Lab is a civil society group organized as a network of local Accountability Labs that focus on fighting corruption and promoting accountability and integrity.) In our conversation, Doussouba and Moussa describe the Accountability Lab’s “human-centric” approach to fighting corruption, and discuss some of their main initiatives. These include the Integrity Icon project, which strives to “name and fame” honest government officials, and the civic action teams that help gather information in, and disseminate information to, local communities to facilitate collective action and promote accountability, while combating fake news. Our interview also discusses how, more recently, Accountability Lab Mali has sought to track the disbursement of COVID-19 relief funds. In addition to these specific initiatives, we also discuss the broader political situation in Mali and how the political challenges facing the country relate to the corruption problem, and what the highest priorities for anticorruption reform in Mali should be right now.

You can find this episode here. 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 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 Jack Goldsmith

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview my Harvard Law School colleague Jack Goldsmith about what the Trump Administration has taught us about the strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. system for constraining corruption, conflicts of interest, and other forms of wrongdoing by the President and senior members of the executive branch, as well as what kinds of institutional reforms and policy changes would help prevent such wrongdoing going forward. The conversation centers on Professor Goldsmith’s new book, After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency, co-authored with Bob Bauer. Jack and I discuss the importance of norms in constraining wrongdoing and maintaining the independence of law enforcement bodies, various approaches to addressing financial conflict-of-interest risks in the context of the U.S. president, the challenges (but also the necessity) of relying on political checks, and the debates over whether to prosecute a former president, such as President Trump, for crimes allegedly committed while in office. You can find this episode here. 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 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–November 2020 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. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

New Podcast Episode, Featuring Daniel Freund

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, my collaborators Nils Köbis and Jonathan Kleinpass interview Daniel Freund, a German representative in the European Parliament, where he serves on the Committee on Budgetary Control and co-chairs the Parliament’s Anti-Corruption Intergroup. Mr. Freund discusses the risks of corruption (or other forms of misappropriation) of EU funds and how to close these loopholes, as well as the use of conditionalities to promote the rule of law. Much of the interview focuses on the challenges posed by states like Hungary, where the Orban regime’s suppression of media freedom and judicial independence has created a situation in which Orban and his cronies are looting the state and enriching themselves to the tune of over one billion Euros per year, as well as entrenching their own power through a system of favoritism and crony capitalism. Mr. Freund discusses the challenges that the Hungarian situation poses for the EU, and the institutional mechanisms that the EU might use to respond this and similar situations.

You can find this episode here. 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 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 Claudia Escobar

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Claudia Escobar, a former Magistrate Judge on the Court of Appeals in Guatemala. Judge Escobar resigned her position in 2014 after exposing corruption in the judicial selection process. Judge Escobar secretly recorded a meeting with representatives of the then-ruling party, who indicated that she would be promoted if she ruled in favor of the government in an important upcoming case. Judge Escobar subsequently released the recordings, and fled Guatemala for fear of reprisals. Since then, she has been working in the United States as a researcher, consultant, and advocate, with a focus on fighting judicial corruption in Guatemala and elsewhere in the Americas.

Our interview begins with a discussion of how Guatemala’s history, including more than 36 years of civil war, has created a culture of impunity and insecurity, and how the challenges this legacy poses to the creation of a genuinely impartial and honest judicial system. Judge Escobar describes many of the problems with Guatemala’s current judicial appointment system, and the associated corruption risks. Our conversation then turned to the impact and legacy of the UN-backed anti-impunity commission, known by its Spanish acronym CICIG. Judge Escobar offers her perspective on the fight against corruption under former President Jimmy Morales and new President Alejandro Giammattei, as well as a more general discussion of the politics of anticorruption in Guatemala and the prospects for future progress on this issue.

You can find this episode here. 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 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 James Wasserstrom (Part 2)

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, James Wasserstrom, with whom I did a podcast episode last month, returns for a second interview. In our first conversation, Mr. Wasserstrom and I talked about his experience as a whistleblower exposing corruption at the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in 2007, and the aftermath. In this week’s episode, Mr. Wasserstrom discusses his work as a special advisor on anticorruption issues at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, where he served from 2009 to 2014. He talks about the importance of anticorruption work in ensuring stability and security, the challenges he faced in convincing senior military and diplomatic officials of the need to take corruption seriously, and why it’s important, in situations like Afghanistan, to adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to corruption and to use strict conditionalities on aid to compel governments to adopt meaningful improvements in transparency, accountability, and integrity. He also compares his experiences in Afghanistan with his prior work in Kosovo, as well as work he’s done since on promoting anticorruption and good governance in Ukraine.

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 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–October 2020 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. As always, I welcome suggestions for other sources that are not yet included, including any papers GAB readers have written.

Interview on the History of Corruption in the U.S. (and Corruption in the Trump Administration)

As regular readers likely know, a little while back I did a post on a new working paper of mine, jointly authored with Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, on corruption and anticorruption in U.S. history. A few weeks ago, Harvard Law Today (the alumni magazine put out by my employer and alma mater) published a short interview I did about what we learned from this research project. In addition to discussing the history, the interviewer also asked some questions regarding the current situation in the U.S. with respect to corruption, especially in connection with the evidence this blog has been collecting of the Trump Administration’s conflicts of interest and efforts to monetize the presidency for personal financial gain. It’s a brief interview, and there may not be much in here that will be news to those who read the working paper or follow these issues closely, but I figured I’d share the interview in case some folks out there might find it of interest. The interview also includes a link to a lecture I delivered a year ago on broad themes related to corruption and anticorruption.