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Corruption as a global threat

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Two presentations will explore corruption as a global phenomenon but with different characteristics in the north and the south. They will show how financial linkages, corporate corruption, silent support for kleptocracy and lenient regulation allow different forms of corruption feed on each other.

Unmasked: Corruption in the West. (I B Tauris, 2017)

In both the EU and the US the public perception of corruption is shifting to the extent that seventy per cent of citizens in both contexts now believe their political parties and parliaments to be ‘corrupt’. This is a finding which predates the Trump Presidency and is one of the forces which has primed populism. Laurence Cockcroft and Anne-Christine Wegener in ‘Unmasked : Corruption in the West’ have  explored  the nature and pervasiveness of forms of corruption in the west, painting a broad canvas covering political finance, lobbying, banking,  secrecy jurisdictions, organised crime, sport and the environment. Although largely different in form to corruption in the developing and ex Soviet world this pattern provides a key to the growing expansion of corruption in these countries too. ‘Unmasked’ :  shows how ineffective  regulatory  and legal  controls on corruption have become, in response to both new technologies and the erosion of ethical norms,  and explores ways forward.  

Laurence Cockcroft: studied history and economics at Cambridge before a professional career as a development economist, with a particular focus on Africa. Concerned about the role of corruption in development he was a co-founder of Transparency International and was Chairman of its UK Chapter from 2001-8. His earlier book on corruption is: ‘Global Corruption Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World’  (2012)  and he has also published a study of contemporary  African politics  and society : ‘Africa’s Way : A  Journey from the Past’ (1989).

The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management: On the International Campaign Against Grand Corruption (Cornell UP, 2017)

An unprecedented new international moral and legal rule forbids one state from hosting money stolen by the leaders of another state. The aim is to counter grand corruption or kleptocracy (“rule by thieves”), when leaders of poorer countries loot billions of dollars at the expense of their own citizens. This money tends to end up hosted in rich countries. Thanks to the new global system of rules, these host states now have a duty to block, trace, freeze and seize these illicit funds, and hand them back to the countries from which they were stolen. The book asks how this anti-kleptocracy regime came about, how well it is working, and how it could work better.

Jason Sharman is the Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of King’s College. Sharman’s research is focused on the regulation of global finance, especially as relates to money laundering, tax, corruption and offshore financial centres. His latest book, The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management, examines how the global rules designed to counter grand corruption first arose, how well these rules work, and how they can work better. Aside from his academic research, Sharman has worked as a consultant with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Financial Action Task Force, Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering and with a variety of groups in the private sector.

The event will be followed by a wine reception.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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