Combating corruption is on the top of U S Govt. agenda

Patna: Realising corruption as a major threat to the national security, development, and governance, the US President has made combatting corruption as the core of U.S. national security priority.

Chandana Ravindranath, Director for anti-corruption at the National Security Council at the White House, while addressing a recently concluded Webinar on U.S. Framework And Efforts To fight Corruption, organised by the Washington Foreign Press Centre, Washington D.C. said that countering corruption was on the top priority of US administration. The President, since release of the National Security Memorandum, was continuously elevating anti-corruption to multilateral fora, including the G7 and G20 and at the UN General Assembly.

 Chandana Ravindranath, the White House lead said that under current situation, corruption enables all forms of criminality, erodes good governance, stifles investment and economic growth. President Biden feels  that some autocracies undermine democracy and want privilege and to address it the President had convened a summit of democratic countries last year to frame rules to combat it in the 21st century.

The White House came forward with the first-ever U.S. Strategy on Countering Corruption following directions of the President to review and identify how the U.S. Government can amplify, expand, and enhance its ongoing efforts to prevent corruption, better hold corrupt actors accountable, curb illicit finance, and strengthen the capacity of investigative journalists, civil society, and other anti-corruption advocates who shine a spotlight on corrupt acts and actors.

The United States was remedying the deficiencies in its own system and effectively implementing federal law with the sole aim to to address the anti-corruption problem worldwide as a leader, said Chandana Ravindranath adding that the leaders from democracies all over the world in the summit announced to fight corruption with more commitment at home and abroad by enacting laws .

The US announced to support anti-corruption change actors across civil society, media, academia, and labour organizations, including funding and empowering anti-corruption change agents programs, which will promote protective measures for whistle blowers, civil society activists, journalists, and others at risk due to their anti-corruption work. For this the US
announced financial assistance of $6 million  to support the Global Anti-corruption Consortium for connecting media and civil society organizations to expose ill-gotten gains and support legal or policy changes in support of anti-corruption objectives.

The U.S. Government, realising that no single country can root out corruption is working closely with allies and partners around the world to uncover corruption, hold individuals accountable and  to strengthen laws and policies she mentioned . To build confidence among the people, corruption issues need to be addressed, she said and reiterated the United States was committed towards more fair, equitable and prosperous society.

Regarding Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or other extraterritorial action laws, economic sanctions and action of U S against Russian oligarchs or the political power led by Putin in pursuit of their suspected act of corruption, tax fraud, money laundering, and other crimes she said that the task force comprising finance ministries and justice or home ministries and their counterparts in Germany, Canada, Japan,France, Italy, Australia, the European Commission, and the United Kingdom, will collect and share information against these targets.

Regarding initiatives by the developed countries including U S to curtail grand corruption like hiding of looted wealth by the African politicians in the developed countries, she said that the U.S. Government, its partners and allies have taken action on the continent against corruption. To corroborate here statement she said that the assets of the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh was freezed and visas for him and his immediate family were blocked. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a civil complaint seeking the forfeiture of Yahya Jammeh’s Maryland property, she further added.

U S also took action against Dan Gertler under the Global Magnitsky program for his role in the corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking about U.S. Government’s mechanisms to catch the money stolen from Africa by the corrupt people in African governments and stored in U S. and transferring the money back to Africa after catching it, Chandana Ravindranath said that there exist a section that focused on curbing illicit finance.

A legislation passed in January 2021 allows the Treasury Department to enact rules that will make it harder for any actor to hide their ill-gotten gains behind opaque corporate structures. She said that the final of the draft rule will be released this year to check such money laundering. U.S. Government is ready to regulate this sector and is looking for feedback from stakeholders.