New Post, Featuring Nicola Bonucci

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Nicola Bonucci, currently a partner with the Paul Hastings law firm, who served for many years as the Director of Legal Affairs for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Our interview focuses primarily on the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in International Business Transactions (sometimes referred to simply as the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention), which Mr. Bonucci was involved in creating and implementing. We discuss the history behind the convention, the reasons for its (relative) success, and also some of its current shortcomings. We also explore some of the current questions and challenges for this convention, including whether large emerging economies (such as China) ought to be brought into the convention, and how to enforce the convention’s requirement that enforcement of foreign anti-bribery laws shouldn’t be influenced by political or national economic considerations. Near the end of our talk, Mr. Bonucci reflects on his new perspective working with private clients addressing foreign bribery issues. 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, Featuring Patrick Alley

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Patrick Alley, a director and co-founder of Global Witness. Global Witness, as many readers are likely aware, is a leading global advocacy organization focused on the inter-related issues of human rights violations, environmental degradation, and grand corruption. At the start of our conversation, Patrick discusses the founding of Global Witness and how his interest in environmental protection in developing countries like Cambodia led him, and the organization, to a greater focus on corruption and illicit financial flows. He then turns to a more in-depth discussion of how Global Witness seeks to raise awareness and prompt remedial action to address these and related problems, including the importance of forming effective–and sometimes surprising–partnerships 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, Featuring Tommy Thomas

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Tommy Thomas, who served as the Attorney General of Malaysia in 2018-2020, and who in that capacity headed the investigation and prosecution of cases arising out of the so-called 1MDB corruption scandal. Our conversation covers both the 1MDB scandal and the broader political and economic circumstances that contributed to and facilitated this and similar sorts of corruption. We also discuss Malaysia’s anticorruption institutions, the factors that are most important to ensuring the independence and effectiveness of these institutions, and possibilities for reform. Toward the end of the interview, Mr. Thomas explains recent political developments, including those that led up to his resignation in early 2020, and also touches on the challenges of finding and recovering stolen assets. 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, Featuring Thomas Stelzer

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Thomas Stelzer, who is currently the Dean of the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA), and who recently served as a member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (a mouthful of a name, which is why this distinguished group is usually referred to as the FACTI Panel). After Dean Stelzer opens our conversation with a discussion of his own professional background and interest in corruption, the interview turns to the FACTI Panel’s report, published this past February, and the report’s recommendations for combating illicit international financial flows. (In addition to the full report, which runs to 49 pages not including annexes and references, FACTI has released a shorter executive summary, as well as an interactive web page.) I asked Dean Stelzer about several of the report’s recommendations that seemed especially pertinent to the fight against grand corruption, and he gamely responded some of the questions and concerns that I raised about certain aspects of the report. In addressing these issues, Dean Stelzer emphasized the importance of more and better research on the topic of illicit financial flows, as well as the need for sustained efforts to ensure effective implementation of reforms such as those that the FACTI Panel outlined. 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, Featuring Diana Chigas and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, I interview Diana Chigas and Cheyanne Scharbatke-Church, who are Professors of Practice at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and affiliated with Tuft’s Henry J. Leir Institute. After describing how they came to a focus on corruption from a background in conflict resolution and peace-building, Professors Chigas and Scharbatke-Church describe the “systems analysis” approach that they use when evaluating and planning anticorruption interventions. That approach stresses understanding the social forces and social norms that sustain corrupt practices as a system, and focuses on identifying useful entry points for policy interventions. The interview moves from this general high-level analytical framework to a discussion of concrete examples of how this methodology can be used to design concrete interventions and support local efforts to promote integrity and change systems. 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, Featuring Gary Kalman

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, we’re delighted to welcome back to the podcast Gary Kalman, the Director of Transparency International’s United States office. I was fortunate to be able to interview Gary a little over one year ago, just before he stepped into his new role as TI’s U.S. Director. In our more recent conversation, we had the opportunity to discuss how his first year in this position has gone, touching on some major successes–most notably the passage of the Corporate Transparency Act, which requires companies to provide the government with information on their true beneficial owners–as well as ongoing challenges. Gary discusses some of the advocacy strategies that proved effective on the corporate transparency issues, and suggests how similar strategies might be deployed to advance other aspects of the anticorruption agenda. He also lays out what he sees as the highest priorities for TI’s advocacy work in the United States, and what vulnerabilities have been exposed by the experience with the Trump Administration and how those might be addressed. 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 Eric Kinaga

A new episode of KickBack: The Global Anticorruption Podcast is now available. In this week’s episode, my collaborator Nils Köbis of the Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Network, together with guest co-host Neil Sorensen of Landportal, interview Eric Kinaga,the Campaign Coordinator for the Shule Yangu Campaign Alliance in Kenya. This group uses open data initiatives to protect public schools. After explaining his own background in anticorruption and how he got involved in the Shule Yangu Alliance, Eric describes the campaign’s work, including the use of online databases to foster transparency in order to prevent land-grabbing, and how the alliance has worked to include marginalized groups in the efforts to prevent land corruption. Eric also discusses the challenges of giving media outlets the incentive to to cover the often complex land corruption issues.

You can 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 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.