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‘Tackling corruption together’

•UK prepares bill seeking to seize 100bn Pounds worth of properties of corrupt politicians

By Tunji Aworinde

Other sources, including the Christian’s bible, attribute  corruption  to earlier age in human history.

The Bible book, Joshua, written approximately four thousand years ago suggests, partly, that Prophet Samuel’s ‘sons walked not in his ways but turned aside after lucre, and  took bribes…

Greek commercial crime is also testified to by the fact that the Parthenon’s architect had to flee Athens to escape charges of  embezzlement. Roman law foreshadowed today’s suspicion of corporate entities. Roman rulers, according to Gibbons; Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, ‘viewed with the utmost jealousy and distrust any association amongst its subjects and the privileges of public corporations though formed for the most harmless or beneficial reasons were bestowed with  sparing hand’.

The industrial revolution of the 17th  century brought arguably, increased wealth and consequently, explosion in  corruption  and corrupt practices.    Institutions emanating from the industrial revolution, including the government, productive and service industries, all have history of corruption.    The global corporate failures of the 1980s and 1990s and the more recent bank failures of 2007/2009 are all testament to greed and financial corruption that plagued post-industrial society

Affirmation of this position is assumed in the writings of  Edward Alsworth Ross in  Sin and Society: An Analysis of Latter-Day Iniquity;  (1907); suggesting ‘the sinful heart is ever the same, but sin changes its quality as society develops. Modern sin takes its character from the mutualism of our time… Interdependence puts us, as it were, at one another’s mercy, and so ushers in a multitude of new forms of wrongdoing.

The practice of mutualism has always worked this way. Most sin is preying, and every new social relation begets its cannibalism. No one will “make the ephah small” or “falsify the balances” until there is buying and selling, “withhold the pledge” until there is loaning, “keep back the hire of the labourers” until there is a wage system, “justify the wicked for a reward” until men submit their disputes to a judge. The rise of the state makes possible counterfeiting, smuggling, peculation, and treason.  Commerce tempts the pirate, the forger, and the  embezzler.  Every new fiduciary relation is a fresh opportunity for breach of trust…’

What is the human behaviour motivating corruption?    Dr D Cressey, an eminent American Criminologist and Sociologist explores, in ‘Other People’s Money’, motives, adapted for this article, for financial fraud (corruption)    as including financial pressure;    peer pressure,    lust for wealth and fame;  greed; family and or community expectations etc. His work provides us with some insights into financial criminal behaviour but short on explaining why some individuals in a group of people, in similar occupation with similar remuneration, in the same country, choose to ‘steal’  and some do not!

Speakers at the conference and summit failed to define ‘Tackling Corruption Together’.    The presumption, one would imagine, was that we all understood those three words! A definition proposed for the purpose of this article, is ‘the coming together of international community, waking up to the ‘cancer’ that corruption is, especially, to the poor, and coming together to propose a ‘cure’ for the cancer’.

The global collaboration proposed and promoted by the conference and summit was, especially, apt, with the conference taking place in the backdrop of the ‘Panama Papers’.      The data leak in April 2016, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, laying bare the extent to which corruption, tax evasion, and other criminality is made possible by the global offshore industry.

The Global Witness reporting the leaks in an article of July 25, 2016,’uncovering Africa’s Offshore Empire’ suggests that  ‘More than $50 billion of foreign aid money is pumped into Africa annually. But did you know that roughly the same amount of money is illicitly siphoned out of the continent?

The thrust of the conference and summit was assumed to engraving anti-corruption ‘ammunition’ at the heart of governments, international institutions and organizations by means of corruption preventing measures:  building integrity; ending impunity and upholding the rule of law by punishing culprits      and protecting and empowering citizens and businesses reporting corruption.

Tools and policies promoted for realizing these objectives were  centrally and publicly availability of ownership of company registers; beneficial ownership transparency in property ownership and purchasing; transparency in public procurement, contracting and open data and transparency in the extractives sector and the protection of whistle-blowers.

•Aworinde is a Chartered & Forensic Accountant.

 

 

 


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