This week, the Biden-Harris Administration released the United States Strategy on Countering Corruption. President Biden made the link between fighting corruption and national security earlier this year in the National Security Study Memorandum, and since that time, Federal departments and agencies have conducted an interagency review and gap analysis of existing U.S. efforts to fight corruption. The Strategy is a product of that review and represents the United States’ first-ever, “whole of government” approach to fighting corruption both domestically and internationally.
The Strategy sets out five mutually reinforcing pillars of work that the U.S. Government will undertake. You can find the full Strategy here.
The first pillar calls for enhancing corruption related research, data collection and analysis; improving information sharing domestically and internationally; and integration of anti-corruption considerations into regional, thematic and sectoral priorities.
The second pillar recognizes that corrupt actors have long used the U.S. financial system to launder their ill-gotten gains and pledges to combat money laundering and illicit trafficking by finalizing beneficial ownership transparency regulations and creating a data base to track such information for anonymous shell companies.
The third pillar promises a renewed effort to hold corrupt actors accountable for their actions through the use of existing and new tools, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, money laundering charges, and forfeiture actions.
The fourth pillar focuses on strengthening existing international initiatives, agreements, and standards to combat corruption on the global scale. The Biden-Harris Administration promises to reinvigorated U.S. participation in the Open Government Partnership and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Recognizing that diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance are crucial to the fight against corruption, the fifth pillar focuses on ensuring that U.S. assistance is maximized and aligned with broader policy goals. To do so, the U.S. will elevate corruption as a diplomatic priority; substantially increase anti- corruption focused assistance and monitor its efficacy; increase support to civil society, investigative journalists and other advocates and reformers; and reevaluate the criteria for government- to-government assistance to include anti- corruption efforts.
The Strategy is ambitious, comes at a time of increased attention to enforcement, and is the latest signal that the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to crack down on corruption. We recommend that companies continue to strengthen their corporate anti-corruption and AML programs to ensure they meet current expectations and best practices.
About the Expert
Leslie Benton is a Vice President at Ethisphere, where she engages with global companies on assessing and benchmarking anti-corruption programs and building capabilities across organizations and with third parties.