Common commitment to fight corruption underlines strong ties
By U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Alina L Romanowski
Today is International Anti-Corruption Day, a day to recognize that everyone has a role to play in the fight against corruption. Together, we can promote resilience and integrity at all levels of society. Corruption affects us all. The scale of corruption-related money flows cannot be overstated: A 2018 United Nations study found that around $ 2.6 trillion is stolen each year due to corruption, which equates to more of 5% of the world’s gross domestic product.
Illicit actors exploit global markets to hide ill-gotten gains through mechanisms such as shell companies or fraudulent real estate transactions. Without strong institutions in place, countries can fall victim to misappropriation of public resources and public health systems can collapse, which can further complicate economic rehabilitation efforts.
The international community has taken many steps to combat corruption over the past year. The United Nations General Assembly held its first-ever special session on corruption last June. During the session, he commended the Riyadh Initiative, creating an international consortium of law enforcement authorities to facilitate information sharing and cooperation across borders.
The United States has also taken action. On June 3, President Biden released the National Security Anti-Corruption Memorandum – a call to action for the U.S. government and its partners to design and implement a plan to modernize and coordinate efforts to better fight against corruption, fight against illicit financing and hold corrupt actors accountable. Kuwait, a signatory to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), has joined the United States in these efforts by building technical capacities to combat illicit financing.
Last June, the United States Embassy, through the United States Department of Justice, hosted several workshops with more than 100 Kuwaiti investigators and prosecutors on combating illicit financing. Participants exchanged ideas on the latest methods of money laundering, such as the use of cryptocurrency, legal accounting, freezing and seizing of assets abroad, and the use of networks. international organizations to obtain evidence and hold corrupt actors accountable. Participation in these workshops demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that Kuwait’s legal regime can fight corruption. The Kuwait Public Prosecutor’s Office has pursued some hard-hitting cases, and I have no doubt that they will be able to meet future challenges.
The United States and Kuwait are also working through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to ensure that countries adhere to beneficial ownership transparency standards and other mechanisms to ensure that poor earnings acquired do not pass through the country. The United States is ready and committed to work with Kuwait in this regard, whether it is working with law enforcement or assisting Kuwait in its assessment of the FATF scheduled for 2022.
Today marks the start of an important month. Earlier this week, the Biden-Harris administration released the first-ever anti-corruption strategy, outlining the United States’ comprehensive approach to tackling corruption. From December 13 to 17, the international community will convene the ninth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the UNCAC to focus on issues such as asset recovery and international cooperation. Kuwait has been a key ally and a great friend of the United States for the past 60 years. Together, let’s internalize the theme of the International Anti-Corruption Day “Your right, your role: say no to corruption”.