Sandy Sierck, a long-time friend of the FCPA Blog, has again pressed forward in his effort to compensate corruption’s true victims: the citizens whose governments have failed them.
Sierck represents (on a pro bono basis) the Social-Economic Rights and Accountability (“SERAP”) project in Nigeria. The FCPA Blog has previously covered his long-term push to return the proceeds of Nigerian corruption to the Nigerian people. Now, in the wake of Switzerland’s announcement that it will return $380 million in recovered stolen assets to the people of Nigeria, Sierck is trying to keep those funds from disappearing again.
In letters to the Department of Justice and Department of State, Sierck has argued that simply returning the money to the government, without adequate controls in place, will only perpetuate the problem. He rightly observes that recovered assets previously returned to the Nigerian government cannot be properly accounted for today. The Nigerian government simply has not demonstrated a resolve to crack down on the corruption that caused the original looting.
What does he propose instead? He has asked the Department of Justice to publish in the Federal Register an invitation for public suggestions and comments regarding how to properly how to use the funds, how to monitor their expenditure, and how to integrate transparency and accountability protocols into the disbursement process.
We think that’s a capital idea. Imagine how much good $380 million could do in Nigeria. Now imagine how easily that opportunity could be squandered. What a waste that would be.
Ensuring that settlements benefit corruption’s true victims is the next frontier of anti-corruption enforcement. Sandy Sierck, and SERAP, are helping to lead the way.
Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Assistant Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law.