News / Economy

Corruption in Government, Business Can Be Found Everywhere

Corruption is a common and pervasive human flaw. In every society, there are people who will act improperly if they think that they won’t get caught. Nations enact laws to try to curb corrupt activities, but the lure of money - and power, in some circumstances - is irresistible to many.

If there is money, if there is power, there is the likelihood of corruption - whether blatant, or hidden, whether in government, in private business or among individuals.

Corruption is so vast, and so pervasive, that the numbers are staggering.  An international anti-corruption monitoring group called Global Financial Integrity says that in the years from 2001 through 2010, developing nations experienced a total of $5.86 trillion in illicit funds leaving those countries.

The leading nation among them was China, where the total that decade hit $2.75 trillion. Mexico was second on the list, with $476 billion in illicit outflows. Russia was fifth at $152 billion. Nigeria was the top African nation on the GFI list, at number seven, with an illicit outflow of $129 billion.

The typical image of an official corrupted by bribes represents only a small part of the picture, according to Global Financial Integrity’s Director, Raymond Baker.

“The corrupt component that stems from bribery and theft from government officials is really quite small-it’s only about three percent, or four percent, or five percent of the global total,” says Baker. “The larger parts of these cross-border flows are the criminal component, which in our estimation is about 30-35 percent of the global total. But the commercially tax avoiding component-at about 60-65 percent of the total is by far the biggest part of this problem.”

Global Financial Integrity says that more recently, the illicit outflow from developing nations is nearing a trillion dollars a year.

Moving veritable mountains of money requires a vast and global shadow financial system.

“The essential elements of the system are secrecy, jurisdictions, disguised corporations, anonymous trust accounts, fake charitable foundations,” says the GFI director. “The mispricing of trade is part of this system; various money laundering techniques are a part of this system. Quite frankly another part is holes left in the laws of western countries that facilitate the movement of money through this shadow financial system and ultimately into our own Western economies.”

GFI says one of the biggest financial “black holes” in the world is actually the United States, where individual states handle the legal process of incorporations, often with little oversight. It says this allows creation of anonymous companies that can then serve as shells and conduits for illicit money.

Corruption monitoring groups say banking secrecy in some western nations such as Switzerland, and islands in the Caribbean, attracts corrupt cash and facilitates its movement. In recent years, Switzerland has bowed to pressures from other nations and international law enforcement agencies and somewhat loosened its secrecy laws.

While corruption is vast in scope, the effort to fight it is growing in strength, and spreading around the globe.

Since its founding in 1993, the watchdog group Transparency International has worked to get nations to put more of their government activities in the public light. And along with that effort, the advance of technology and other developments have given citizens everywhere better tools to press for that openness. Transparency International co-founder Frank Vogl lists the broad-based efforts underway.

“Thanks to the Internet,” Vogl says, “Thanks to the really enormous growth of civil society across the world, thanks to social media, thanks to investigative journalism, thanks to courageous public prosecutors, the public at large knows more about abuse of public office than ever before. It is better informed about corruption.”

Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 21, 2013 11:29 PM
In many places corruption may be the deciding factor on which product/service is purchased. Companies that are by law bound not to participate, will lose contracts/jobs/market share to the detriment of the company/workers/etc, if there is not a mandated and enforced system for all nations in the world; how do you solve the foreign enforcement issue?

by: Patricia Donalds
February 21, 2013 5:48 PM
DoD study on random polygraphs for personnel.
"the polygraph is the single most effective tool for finding information people were trying to hide." - DoD, NSA

The real name on this war on terror, drugs, economy, ourselves and everything is called CORRUPTION.

Plain and simple.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9043
JPY
USD
123.19
GBP
USD
0.6445
CAD
USD
1.3030
INR
USD
64.170

Rates may not be current.