The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has released a report called “Keeping Foreign Corruption out of the United States: Four Case Histories,” which documents how officials in Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Nigeria used the U.S. financial system to launder millions of dollars.
This is robbery at its worst — officials are taking away funds that should be used to provide valuable resources for their nations. Consider this: between 2004 and 2006, the son of the president of Equatorial Guinea spent $44 million on cars and houses in the U.S. and South Africa, while the nation’s education budget for 2005 was $43 million. (Human Rights Watch)
Released in conjunction with the Subcommittee’s hearing, the 330-page report reveals how U.S. lawyers, lobbyists, real estate agents and other professionals have facilitated foreign corruption, given that, unlike banks, they are under no legal obligation to establish anti-money laundering programs, know their customers, or evaluate the source of funds transferred into the U.S. The report lists a number of recommendations, including:
- Enact stricter standards on bank accounts of foreign officials, or “politically exposed persons” (PEPs), as outlined in the most recent World Bank report
- Make foreign corruption a legal basis for barring entry into the U.S., and expelling corrupt PEPs from the country
- Encourage U.S. professional organizations to issue anti-money laundering and anti-corruption guidance to their members
Director Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch approves of the proposed reforms, commenting, “For too long abusive and corrupt leaders have benefitted from secrecy and lax regulation. The reforms proposed in the Senate report would make things much more transparent and make corrupt officials and their collaborators more accountable.”
Read a summary of the report here.