I had planned to write a reply, and partial rebuttal, to last week’s posts by Matthew and Travis on ethics, corruption, and Donald Trump. The more I tried to come up with something to say, however, the more depressed I grew. Instead, as a tonic — for this writer and perhaps others born or living in Trumplandia — what follows is instead good news on the global anticorruption front –
Laos: Shedding Fancy Government Vehicles that Smack of Corruption. A December decree orders all government officials to trade their government-bought Mercedes, BMWs, Lexus, and other high-end vehicles for more modest means of transport. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and President Bounnhang Vorachit have both returned their BMW 7 Series and now drive Toyota Camry 2.5 cars instead. Other ministry and party officials must follow suit. (Details here.)
The Netherlands: Civil Society Attacks Money Launderers. SMX Collective, a grassroots organization of Dutch and Mexican activists, academics, artists, journalists, curators and researchers concerned about the extreme impunity and violence suffered by Mexican people, has filed a complaint with the Dutch Public Prosecutor demanding the Dutch Bank Rabobank be charged with money laundering for its role in aiding Mexican drug cartels. Vigorous pursuit of banks and other intermediaries for facilitating corrupt activities is urgently required, and Dutch civil society’s complaint is a welcome sign and an example others should copy. For an English language summary of the complaint, click on “Continue Reading” at the bottom of the page.
France & Peru: Former Heads of State in Anticorruption Dock. Prosecutors are pursuing charges against former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for campaign finance violations (NYT account here; Le Monde here) and former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo for accepting a bribe (AP/NYT here; El Comercio here). Neither case seems political. Both have been brought by career law enforcement authorities who have no apparent ax, political or otherwise to grind. The two may ultimately be found innocent by their nations’ courts, but the fact that high office in the two countries does not automatically carry with it immunity from prosecution for corruption crimes has to be considered very good news.
All three stories lifted my spirits. I trust it will help other readers recognize that despite the fact President Trump is unlikely to fall over corruption claims (nicely explained by New Yorker writer James Surowieki here), the war against corruption is proceeding apace.
Summary in English of SMX complaint: Continue reading