US “Not Viewed Very Well” on Corruption

At a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on corruption and kleptocracy, testimony was given to the effect that the United States’ anti-corruption activities around the world are undermined by its own image and acts.

The US’ “credibility is extremely weak on this issue,” said Sarah Chayes, the Senior Associate for the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Responding to a question from the chairman of the committee, Bob Corker, R-TN, that asked how people outside of the US view the US on the issue of corruption, Ms. Chayes replied “I have to say we’re not viewed very well.”

Earlier Senator Bob Menendez, D-NJ, had highlighted the issue of what one witness called “western enablers.”

Bob Gershman, the president of the National Endowment fro Democracy, in his written testimony wrote “professional intermediaries in the established democracies are critical links for venal kleptocrats who seek to move ill-gotten gains from authoritarian systems into the democracies, where they can enjoy the rule of law.”

He also quoted from journalist Oliver Bullogh, who wrote “only with the help of Western enablers can a foreign kleptocrat transform the ownership of a questionable fortune, earned in an unstable country where jail is often one court decision away, into a respected philanthropist.”

The numbers being lost by corruption discussed during the hearing were large. Mr. Corker noted that the cost of corruption annually stands at $2.6 trillion.

by Marlon J. Ettinger

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