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Notes from IACA, Part Two: What would you do in your country with $10 million?

I wrote in the prior post about the great things the International Anti-Corruption Academy is doing, thanks in large part to the Siemens Integrity Fund. It’s a beautiful example of using anti-corruption settlement money to truly address worldwide corruption.

I asked my IACA students, if such a thing were to happen in your country — if you had $10 million of money from an anti-corruption enforcement action to fund initiatives in your country — what would you do with it?

The craziest idea? Fire all the corrupt officials, one student said, and hire honest and well-paid replacements. Great idea. Not gonna happen. And she knew it.

The most common idea? In various ways, nearly all students spoke of the need to educate. Change public opinion, generate public will. Create a critical mass of citizens who more consciously recognize their right to a government free of systemic corruption.

Create “mini-IACAs” around the world that provided advanced training and certification in the causes and effects of corruption and the best solutions. Go to the business and law schools and provide a solid foundation in the importance of effective compliance and prosecution. Create training centers for working professionals in the private and public sectors. Go into the elementary schools and teach kids about the virtues of honesty and accountability, in government and in life. Provide seed money to startup companies that could build social media platforms to enable communication among citizens.

The most creative idea of all?  Start a television program, modeled after CSI or Law and Order, but dealing entirely with corruption. Silly? I actually don’t think so.

Popular culture is an extraordinarily powerful tool for changing public opinion. You’d have chiseled stars of the screen ferreting out bribe payers and solicitors, money embezzlers, extortionists. They’d be brought to justice. The variety of circumstances and motives for engaging in corruption would come to light, and become part of the public’s consciousness. Anti-corruption enforcement would become cool, hip, something the in crowd does.

And think of all the real-life material you’d have to work with: the U.S., China, Russia, Brazil, Malaysia, etc., etc., etc. As with traditional crime, the subject matter provides for a steady supply that, for better or for worse, will likely never end as long as people are watching television.

There is so much we could do to address worldwide corruption. Enforcement of the FCPA and like statutes is an absolutely critical component of an effective global anti-corruption strategy. But this, alone, cannot solve the problem. Still, it generates tremendous resources that, with a little creativity, we could use to develop complementary initiatives that would truly address corruption at the source.

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Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.

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2 Comments

  1. My wife and I have been watching South Korean dramas for the past year. Because the population in South Korea is a bit wary of the relationship between the owners of larger (family based, or Chaebol) firms and government officials, some of the dramas include examples of corrupt politicians making deals with industry and even high-level police and prosecution office officials for their own benefit, at taxpayers' detriment. One was about a casino resort; one was about people being displaced in order to build more expensive apartment buildings; one was about a candidate for the presidency creating a "slush fund" for himself using funds diverted from the Ministry of Education (the shoddy building he built collapsed, killing some students). I started watching another new one yesterday (ref. http://www.dramafever.com/drama/4757/1/mrs-cop/ ) which seems to involve a police commissioner pressured by some politicians to hide crime… probably that will be related to campaign financing or personal financial gain again.

    Creating dramas to help influence public perception is not a bad a idea. Some of these dramas are actually very well made and popular.

  2. I like the idea. The need to create conscientiousness among people to stop corruption and avoid persons or families to create fortunes through bribes has to be stopped. Examples like the FIFA officers, those which you have been publishing in your blog should make people think that they could be caught or someone will find out that they had obtained money, they do not deserve.


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