Dec 6, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden unveils corruption strategy


Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Monday released the first-ever U.S. government strategy for countering corruption, kicking off a week of policy initiatives pegged to the inaugural "Summit for Democracy" on Dec. 9-10.

Why it matters: Joe Biden is the first president to establish the fight against corruption as a core national security interest. Critics say corruption not only robs a nation of its core resources but discourages citizens from believing in the rule of law.

Driving the news: The U.S. government will vastly increase the intelligence and diplomatic resources devoted to countering corruption, described as a transnational threat damaging public trust, deepening inequality and undermining democracy.

  • The strategy calls for the creation of senior anti-corruption positions and coordinating bodies within the State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department and USAID.
  • Federal agencies will be directed to improve "corruption-related risk analysis" when considering foreign aid and security assistance, especially in countries with a significant record of corruption.
  • The strategy commits the U.S. to deepening cooperation with foreign partners who have shown the political will to fight corruption, and also to strengthening support for activists and investigative journalists exposing corruption on the ground.

In an effort to reduce the ability of corrupt actors to exploit the U.S. financial system, the Treasury Department will solicit public comment on a potential rule to address the vulnerability of the U.S. real estate market to money laundering.

  • Officials hope this feedback will lead to new regulations cracking down on corrupt activity while minimizing the overall burden on the real estate industry.

The big picture: 110 governments have been invited to the virtual Summit for Democracy, a major Biden initiative that's sparked heated debate — and backlash from Russia and China — over how the U.S. is evaluating democratic governance.

  • The Wall Street Journal reported last week the administration will encourage participants to join the U.S. in sanctioning foreign officials and actors engaged in "corruption, repression, organized crime and serious human-rights abuse."
  • Biden also will launch an initiative to establish a "code of conduct" for limiting the export of surveillance technologies exploited by authoritarian regimes, according to the Journal.
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