INL Supports Global Anti-Corruption Efforts

Photo Credit: Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL)

CIPE Director of Multiregional Programs Anna Kompanek conducted the interview on June 29th at the Washington, D.C. office of the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) division at the United States Department of State

Can you introduce yourself and state your role at the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) division at the United States Department of State?

RL: I’m Robert Leventhal, Deputy Director of the Office of Anti-Crime Programs. I oversee teams working on issues such as anti-corruption, wildlife trafficking, international crime, as well as a global series of international law enforcement academies.

MT: My name is Marianne Toussaint, I am the Anti-Corruption Team Lead. I manage the team dedicated to anti-corruption affairs; it includes five team members and we focus on global and regional multilateral and foreign assistance programming and policy relating to anti-corruption.

Can you offer some examples of how INL works in the global anti-corruption space?

RL: INL’s work in this space is an expression that anti-corruption is a priority for the State Department. Anti-corruption relates to a wide range of foreign policy and national security goals for the United States (U.S.) government and many other governments. Because we’re speaking with CIPE, I should highlight that we have an interest in strong markets where U.S. businesses operate, a level playing field for U.S. companies, and conditions that stimulate economic growth around the world.

Recently, the President issued an executive order on combatting transnational criminal organizations, which highlighted the role that corruption plays in facilitating crime and the work of transnational criminal organizations. INL works closely with the U.S. Department of Justice, Treasury Department, U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, and a range of other agencies.

INL has two main lines of work relating to anti-corruption. INL manages and funds programs in about 80 countries around the world. The focus is on counter-narcotics, rule of law, counter-transnational organized crime. Many include anti-corruption programs. Some of them are low key but important ongoing efforts such as training investigators and prosecutors, others are higher profile like the support we have given to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the reform efforts we’ve supported in Ukraine, including the transformation of the patrol police into one of the most professional and trusted institutions in the country.

Complimenting this bilateral approach, INL also leads efforts towards creating and strengthening the multilateral frameworks that establish standards that bring countries together to cooperate on investigations and prosecutions. For example, INL helped negotiate the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and worked with countries around the world to sign it. We also helped negotiate the review mechanism for the Convention, now entering the second cycle, and helped countries to enact and implement the reforms to fulfil their obligations under UNCAC.

In that vein, the U.S., with a leading role from INL, also took the lead in putting anti-corruption on the G20 agenda to set standards and political commitments in prevention, enforcement, and areas of interest to the business community like procurement. We try to encourage the appropriate input and participation of civil society and business. Alongside the G20, there is the B20 which has often had an anti-corruption subgroup that we have worked with and it provides very helpful input to the G20.

Speaking of implementation, how do you move from policy-level reforms to enforcement on the ground? What institutions best facilitate this process?

MT: We look to the conventions such as UNCAC and review mechanisms as one way to build political will. Some of our funding both bilaterally and regionally is for working with the United Nations (UN) and partners on the ground to draft new legislation and support compliance with the conventions and commitments that countries have made.

This is facilitated by not only working with international organizations, but also civil society on the ground, who have been influential in drafting legislation and holding governments accountable. Additionally, the UN is reviewing the portion of the Convention related to prevention and asset recovery so we’ve begun hearing from several countries that in anticipation of the reviews there is great interest in anti-corruption commissions and agencies. We have been working with several countries to assist them with establishing these commissions.

How do you see the role of the private sector in combatting corruption in emerging markets?

MT: We see the private sector as a valuable partner, for instance through the G20 working group that drafted High-Level Principles on the Liability of Legal Persons for Corruption and included participation from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the B20. We’ve seen and heard anecdotally that companies working to be into compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) help create change on the ground in many countries. Governments are realizing that companies are not offering bribes, so if the government wants to grow the economy and increase business then there is pressure to make legislative reforms and run a more transparent process. The anti-corruption conventions may seem high level but they do make a difference in strong enforcement of our own legislation in the U.S. and those enacted by other governments.

Under this administration, the Attorney General has spoken several times regarding the importance of recommitting to FCPA enforcement. INL worked with regional bodies last year to promote corporate compliance and worked directly with Peru, which was the previous chair of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Although a “full government” approach is not INL’s bread and butter, as we traditionally work mostly with the justice sector, we have been supporting APEC’s corporate compliance standards and we fund a program through the OECD focused on Eastern Europe and Central Asia called the Anti-Corruption Network. It is managed under the OECD Working Group on Bribery and they have held several business integrity forums focused on Eastern European countries that are not yet members of the OECD like Kazakhstan and other countries in the Caucasus. Members of this network discuss corporate compliance and legislative reform efforts happening in the region and make recommendations.

We work closely with our interagency partners to share our own best practices abroad and see anti-corruption as a two-pronged approach – both working with governments and also from the bottom up supporting civil society’s and the private sector’s role to hold governments accountable and support a transparent business environment.

Louisa Tomar is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE