We Americans sometimes think that because we have the FCPA and activist enforcement agencies, we also have a monopoly on the fight against corruption. Not true. There are people all over the world standing firm against graft. No matter where, it’s dangerous work. But there was plenty of courage and persistence on display in 2013 beyond our borders.
Here are five examples:
5. Si Italia! This was the year when Italian prosecutors put on trial the former chairman and CEO at the powerful state defense contractor, Finmeccanica, accusing him of paying bribes in India. Prosecutors also began investigating state-oil giant Eni and its Saipam subsidiary for bribes in Algeria. The powerful CEO of Eni, Paolo Scaroni, was placed under investigation. That’ll shake things up.
4. India’s Aam Admi Party (“Common Man” Party). The party rose out of an anti-corruption mass movement and had a stunning debut in its first election. As Russ Stamets wrote in the FCPA Blog, ‘Barely a year after launching a political party to harness anger at widespread corruption, the Aam Admi Party (“Common Man” Party) has pushed the waning Congress Party from its 15-year long rule of New Delhi’s assembly. The new party’s resounding victory may portend big changes for the world’s largest democracy in the national elections expected by May 2014.’
3. Indonesia’s independent anti-corruption commission, the KPK. The 700-person agency won the 2013 Magsaysay Foundation Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The trustees of the Magsaysay Foundation credited the KPK with leading ‘one of the world’s most admired campaigns against corruption.’ The KPK since 2003 has prosecuted 332 high-profile cases involving top government officials. It’s been to trial in 169 of the cases. And in all of its cases, it has ‘chalked up an amazing one-hundred percent conviction rate.’ That’s how you fight sleaze, and win.
2. Aleksei Navalny. Russia’s most popular anti-graft blogger and a charismatic opposition leader was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement in what looked like a Soviet-era show trial. After his surprise release a day after sentencing, he returned to Moscow and continued his campaign to be mayor. He lost the election but has kept fighting for a cleaner Russia. No one ever scored higher on the bravery scale than Navalny.
1. China enforcement. It’s breathtaking. An industry-shaking sweep of foreign pharmas and the jailing of some of their local execs, a frugality campaign for party officials that’s the real thing, the rise of citizen journalists and online whistleblowers, the trials and graft convictions of former party heavyweight Bo Xilai and ex-railway minister ‘Great Leap Liu’ Zhijun, price fixing allegations and fines against foreign baby formula makers, and the list goes on. Even if some of it is meant to purge political enemies, it’s a historic shift in the way the world’s most populous country and second biggest economy confronts bribery and corruption.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.