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Harry Cassin
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Richard L. Cassin
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Bill Steinman
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Mythili Raman: ‘Why we fight corruption’

Mythili Raman (Image courtesy of C-Span)Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division is leaving the agency Friday, March 21. But the 17-year DOJ veteran made time the day before her departure to speak to the Global Anti-corruption Compliance Congress in Washington, DC.

The reasons she gave for fighting graft wherever it happens are as well said as anything on the topic we’ve seen.

Here’s an excerpt from her remarks:

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Our fight against foreign corruption is critical for so many reasons. The corrosive effects of transnational corruption are felt not just overseas, but also here in the United States. Although we may not experience as acutely, or as personally, some of the consequences of foreign bribery – such as hospitals or roads that go unbuilt because infrastructure funds are siphoned off by a corrupt official – the negative effects of foreign corruption invariably and directly are felt here at home.

For one, given the global nature of our economy, when corruption takes hold overseas, American companies are harmed. They are denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent marketplace. Instead of being rewarded for their efficiency, innovation and honest business practices, U.S. companies suffer at the hands of corrupt governments and lose out to corrupt competitors.

But, foreign corruption also creates another very real danger for the United States that I think bears emphasis.  Very simply, corrupt countries are less safe. When public officials are more interested in their own personal wealth than the prosperity of the citizens they are supposed to serve, people lose faith in political institutions; and, when there is no respect for the rule of law, civilized society falters and opportunities are created for organized criminal groups and terrorist networks. As the head of the Criminal Division, I am acutely aware of the opportunities corrupt regimes provide for criminals of all stripes, and the very real dangers they present for us in the United States.

Indeed, I know from the work that the Criminal Division does – from human trafficking, to cybercrime, to child exploitation and narcotics trafficking – that transnational criminal networks rely on international corruption to gain an advantage and evade the justice system. They often choose to operate in countries governed by corrupt officials because they know that those officials are willing to turn a blind eye to their crimes.

Corrupt regimes can be bought off by criminal syndicates; they are less likely to cooperate with U.S. law enforcement; and they create safe havens for organized criminals by giving them a secure base from which they can orchestrate massive criminal activity.

For all of these reasons, fighting foreign corruption is not just a choice we have made; it is a necessity.

By now, the Justice Department’s commitment to fighting foreign corruption is clear – not because I am telling you so or because my predecessors have, but because our record of successful foreign bribery prosecutions speaks for itself.

In just the last year, since the beginning of 2013, the department has entered into nine corporate resolutions in foreign bribery cases – including three of the top ten FCPA resolutions ever reached. Together, those nine resolutions resulted in over $730 million in criminal penalties and forfeitures. We have also this past year announced charges against 18 individuals – from CEOs of companies, to general counsels, to brokers and traders at financial institutions. And, we have launched and continued other major investigations that touch numerous industries and span the globe.

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Mythili Raman’s full remarks to the 2014 Global Anti-corruption Compliance Congress are here.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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