Course Details

Course Number: 90-847

The Panama Papers, Grand Corruption and Law Enforcement

Units: 6

The panoramic scale of and phenomenal losses from grand corruption have recently been highlighted by the Panama Papers. Its revelations of corruption and financial crimes demonstrate the growing gulf between governments’ global and national anti-corruption obligations and the worsening realities on the ground. The breadth and depth of corruption revealed by the leaked documents show that many governments in both advanced and less advanced economies are negligent in carrying out their international and national legal commitments, and that corruption practices across these economies are symbiotically linked in many ways.

This course will address the implementation challenges facing international anti-corruption agreements, notably the UN Convention against Corruption and the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. Getting signatory countries’ laws and regulations to be consonant with the provisions of these conventions is only the first stage of what is, in fact, a two-stage implementation process. The second stage is the enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations. This stage, which fosters deterrence and strengthens the rule of law vital to economic development, will be the focus of the course.

The importance of enforcement of anti-corruption laws cannot be overstated. Without enforcement, there can be no deterrence. Without enforcement, there is no rule of law. Dead letter laws are arguably worse than having no laws at all. Anti-corruption laws that a government does not or cannot implement reduces a government’s credibility and capacity to tackle corruption, much less manage an economy.

Anti-corruption laws, however well-designed, do not implement themselves. Their implementation requires institutions that are strategically structured and staffed, as well as effectively managed and equipped. These strong institutional features – combined with strategies and solutions that increase risks and lower rewards for corruption – are necessary to overcome the resources and resistance of formidable opponents. In many jurisdictions, the power of corrupt actors can be far more formidable than those of anti-corruption bodies, enabling them to thwart the law.

Take anti-bribery laws for example. Of the 41 signatory countries to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, only 4 are active enforcers. Two-thirds of the signatories are limited or non-existent enforcers. These results are extremely disconcerting because the convention has been in effect for 18 years and yet 20 major economies have failed to prosecute even a single bribery case. This failure in enforcement has arguably worsened international bribery involving multinational enterprises by signalling that anti-bribery laws are inconsequential if not inutile.

This course will address the following questions:

1) What is grand corruption and what are its causes, costs, and consequences?
2) What are the causes behind the failures and shortcomings of governments in their enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations? What institutional, organisational, and technical factors explain weak and limited implementation?
3) What strategies, methods, and tools can improve the enforcement of anti-corruption laws and regulations? What institutional, organisational, technical, and technological solutions have worked that can be augmented or scaled up?
4) How can governments enhance their capacities to implement anti-corruption laws and regulations? What innovative approaches can be developed to make anti-corruption and accountability agencies more effective?

The course will examine cases of grand corruption across the world, including in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Among the countries to be covered will be the US, China, Russia, Brazil, India, South Africa, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and others. The course will discuss different strategies and solutions that leaders in governments, non-government organisations and private sector can consider to improve, at a global level, the implementation of UNCAC and OECD anti-bribery convention. At the national level, the course will discuss and develop recommendations to enhance the enforcement of anti-corruption laws in terms of effective detection, investigation, prosecution and sanctions against corruption, with due consideration to different country contexts.

Among the solutions and strategies that will be discussed in the course are:

• Better indicators and measures of implementation and law enforcement;
• New tools and methods to monitor implementation and law enforcement;
• Alternatives approaches – including use of new technologies - that enhance detection and investigation of corruption
• Types of assistance to anti-corruption and accountability organisations that can improve their effectiveness;
• Establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court

Emil P. Bolongaita