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Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

The BOTA Foundation explained (Part One): Why focus on BOTA?

The failed FCPA prosecution against James Giffen has been discussed extensively on the FCPA Blog and elsewhere. So has the BOTA Foundation, which was established in 2008 as a direct result of the Giffen case.

Andy Spalding has posted several times about why BOTA is important and how it could be an important precedent for future corruption settlements.

BOTA was unique because it was the first foundation in the world which used recovered bribes to benefit victims of corruption — the poor. 

A key (and open) question is, will it be the last such foundation, or can the foundation’s success be repeated?

While the case of BOTA has surfaced in conferences and literature discussing return of corruption assets, not much is known about how BOTA actually worked and what it was able to accomplish. My goal in this series of posts (there will be about a dozen of them) is to start to fill that information gap.

After a quick recap of the Giffen case, I’ll explain who the key players were (the U.S. Department of Justice, the Swiss and Kazakhstani governments and the World Bank) and what their motivations were to establish the Foundation. The institutional arrangements governing BOTA, its three programs, and what the foundation was able to accomplish will be covered in subsequent posts.

The series will conclude by reviewing some of the key lessons of BOTA what they mean for any future foundation established with money from corruption settlements and indeed, what the prospects are for new BOTAs.

I’m very interested in your comments and feedback, especially on how well I am doing in filling you in on BOTA’s work and results. Make sure to let me know in the comments section or by emailing me here.


Aaron Bornstein was the Executive Director of BOTA Foundation, employed by a Washington, D.C. based NGO called IREX, from 2011 until its close in 2014. He is a foundation and international development professional who has worked in 8 different countries on a variety of civil society strengthening, poverty alleviation, and other projects. Aaron is interested in receiving institutional support for the more extensive documentation of the BOTA experience that he is working on. Please send your suggestions, along with your feedback on the BOTA series, to [email protected].

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