25 December 2021. Moskovsky Komsomolets
Written by Andrey Yashlavsky
‘The United States intends to fight greed all over the world but not at home’
The United States has created the first Strategy on Countering Corruption. But the U.S. is supposed to target corruption anywhere except in America. At the same time, somehow the information about Biden and his son’s corrupt activities in Ukraine can hardly be remembered. However, rather for the sake of decency, the Strategy indicates that the United States will fight the laundering of other people’s money used under the guise of legal investments. What Washington really intends to fight, described President of the International Police Association Russian Section, Lieutenant General, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honoured Lawyer of Russia Yury Zhdanov.
MK: Over the past decades, every new U.S. President has declared the need to fight corruption. And then suddenly such a loud statement about the first strategy on countering corruption. Is it excessive conceit or some kind of clever combination?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Both variants, I’m afraid. Now all this mix, this mess is tactfully called hybrid wars. Let me remind you that, in accordance with President Biden’s instructions, federal departments and agencies conducted a 200-day review. This review was aimed at identifying how the U.S. government can expand and strengthen its corruption prevention efforts to better hold corrupt actors accountable, curb illicit finance and empower investigative journalists and other members of civil society who are on the front lines of exposing corrupt acts. As a result, the supposedly first-ever United States’ government strategy on countering corruption was published.
MK: And how are they going to expand and strengthen all this?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Suddenly, miraculously, it turned out that the adopted strategy is aimed not so much at countering internal American corruption but should become a serious geopolitical weapon for solving external problems.
Here is the quote: ‘The Strategy places special emphasis on the transnational dimensions of the challenges posed by corruption, including by recognizing the ways in which corrupt actors have used the U.S. financial system and other rule-of-law based systems to launder their ill-gotten gains.’
The strategy also states that multilateral anti-corruption architecture is being strengthened, diplomatic cooperation is being improved, as well as foreign assistance resources are being leveraged to advance policy goals.
MK: That is, we are not talking about punishing their own bribe-takers, increasing imprisonment term for them, confiscating stolen property?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: No, it’s not on the agenda at all. They fight only with foreign corrupt officials. They are also ‘progressors,’ helping all the supposedly disadvantaged groups in different countries. And what they themselves are this deep in dirt – this is their internal, sovereign matter – off-limits to outsiders. How would the same Venezuela dare to offer the U.S. assistance in the fight against the American corruption?..
MK: After all, what are the main points in their concept?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: They claim that they seek to better understand the transnational aspects of corruption and respond to them, including by increasing intelligence and diplomatic resources related to this topic. That is, espionage will be fully encouraged.
The U.S. government also intends to take serious steps to limit the ability of corrupt actors to use American and international financial systems to launder criminal proceeds. Most likely, these proceeds will not go anywhere but will be more carefully hidden.
And, most importantly, their strategy is aimed at deepening coordination with the partner-States’ governments to strengthen their ability to seek accountability for corruption where there is political will. And this should be aimed at increasing support for activists and investigative journalists ‘on the front lines of exposing corrupt acts,’ often conducting direct anti-State activities, preparing ‘undesirable,’ ‘authoritarian’ regimes for ‘colour’ revolutions.
MK: And how are the Americans going to help these ‘fighters’ in those countries that do not crave official U.S. help in the fight against their own corruption, where they believe they will cope on their own?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: They are ready to help by force, regardless of the patient’s desire. They believe that they are dealing with a kitten that needs to be poked with its muzzle in milk so that it realises the taste and usefulness of the product.
MK: That is, they are ready to use force against another State, aren’t they?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: And this is not the first time for them, remember Panama. For example, the Department of Defense commits through this strategy to strengthen its planning processes in order to include more integrate security sector management considerations prior to assistance. They are also going to conduct more frequent assessments of security cooperation in countries with significant corruption risks in order to determine the effectiveness of security cooperation. That is, the U.S. army will now be the defining actor in the fight against corruption in other countries. Well, that’s at least an honest statement.
MK: Probably, by fighting corruption in other countries, Americans are trying to achieve not only political goals but also economic benefits?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Well, that’s how every profitable deal is made – for them, money is above all. They declare the prevention of corruption in high-risk sectors, such as construction, transport industries and extraction of natural resources. That is, they take control of the most ‘delicious’ things in any State’s economy under the guise of fighting corruption. What if someone there will bribe more than them? By the way, it is no coincidence that they closely link their strategy on countering corruption with the ‘Summit for Democracy.’ In general, the same hybrid war, only side view.
MK: And, after all, Biden and his team are not fools to turn all the arrows of internal corruption, from which ordinary Americans suffer, to some external villains...
Mr Yury Zhdanov: The strategy stipulates that ‘when government officials abuse public power for private gain, they do more than simply appropriate illicit wealth. Corruption robs citizens of equal access to vital services, denying the right to quality healthcare, public safety, and education. It degrades the business environment, subverts economic opportunity, and exacerbates inequality. It often contributes to human rights violations and abuses, and can drive migration. As a fundamental threat to the rule of law, corruption hollows out institutions, corrodes public trust, and fuels popular cynicism toward effective, accountable governance.’ It is actually said beautifully and even fairly.
And here comes a smooth transition from internal American problems to external enemies. It turns out – listen carefully! – ‘the impacts of corruption frequently reverberate far beyond the immediate environment in which the acts take place. In today’s globalized world, corrupt actors bribe across borders, harness the international financial system to stash illicit wealth abroad, and abuse democratic institutions to advance anti-democratic aims. Emerging research and major journalistic exposés have documented the extent to which legal and regulatory deficiencies in the developed world offer corrupt actors the means to offshore and launder illicit wealth. This dynamic in turn strengthens the hand of those autocratic leaders whose rule is predicated on the ability to co-opt and reward elites.’ Guess who these autocratic leaders are?
MK: I bet the United States intends to lead the promotion of prosperity and security of the American people and people around the world?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Of course it does. Hence the American approaches. It should be remembered that the U.S. government has long recognised the fight against corruption as an important goal of their foreign policy. Hey, Carl! Although in all other normal States, this is the task of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office.
Nevertheless, they have enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), their other legislative and regulatory regimes through criminal and civil law measures, regardless of how these measures are consistent with other national legislations. They don’t care about someone else’s legislation. The United States intends to ‘increase support to state and non-state partners committed to reform, boost the capacity of other governments to tackle corruption, and empower those, including activists, investigative journalists, and law enforcement on the front lines of exposing corrupt acts.’
– How exactly will they achieve this?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Well, in addition to pouring money into controlled mass media and ‘democratic’ organisations, they will actively expand intelligence activities – the so-called information exchange. Moreover, they will curb what they consider illicit finance. That is, foreign investors will be under close attention. Of course, they will strengthen the prosecution of corrupt officials. At least – they will declare it. And the Americans also intend to preserve and strengthen the multilateral anti-corruption architecture.
MK: Is there one?
Mr Yury Zhdanov: Yes, there is. It is present in such organisations as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations, including through enhanced implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). At the same time, it is planned to expand the NATO-led Building Integrity Programme to target corruption in finance, acquisition, and human resources functions, Pushing the G20 and G7 to implement strong transparency and anti-corruption measures across all ministerial tracks, as well as reinvigorate U.S. participation in the Open Government Partnership and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
MK: It’s strange how the NATO military bloc can defeat corruption somewhere...
Mr Yury Zhdanov: This is an excuse for Americans to interfere in other people’s affairs, to control someone else’s politics and economy. They explicitly announced the development and support of U.S. embassy-specific bilateral and public diplomacy strategies to support local and U.S. government-funded anti-corruption initiatives and protect reformers. ‘Diplomatic engagement, foreign assistance, including security sector assistance, and multilateral lending are central to the United States’ approach to countering corruption.’
At the same time, they cynically do not rule out ‘building additional flexibility to anti-corruption initiatives and assistance efforts to respond to unexpected openings or backsliding.’ Like, you never know what might be revealed after the discovery of corrupt officials. Maybe there will appear ‘the need’ to change the government or even to dismantle the State.
In general, beware of Greeks bearing gifts.