On December 9, 2021, the United States updated the lists of citizens whose assets are blocked in the United States, and who are banned from entering the country. This list includes former First Deputy Head of the Yanukovych administration Andrii Portnov and Head of the Constitutional Court Oleksandr Tupytskyi.
These sanctions are one of the first measures already implemented as part of the realization of the US Strategy on Countering Corruption around the world. What kind of strategy is this?
Recognizing that corruption can destroy democracy, on June 3, 2021, President Biden declared the fight against corruption a key national security interest of the United States.
For this purpose, a comprehensive Strategy has been developed which should improve the ability of the US government to prevent corruption, fight illicit financial transactions more effectively, help bring corrupt officials to justice, and strengthen the potential of activists, investigative journalists, and other corruption fighters.
The Strategy engages all US government agencies, including to reduce the ability of corrupt officials to use American and international financial systems to hide assets and launder income.
5 key pillars of the strategy:
1. Modernizing, coordinating, and resourcing U.S. Government efforts to fight corruption. The updated approach will include:
• Better understanding and responding to the transnational dimensions of corruption, including by prioritizing intelligence collection and analysis on corrupt actors and their networks.
• Elevating anti-corruption work as a cross-cutting priority in key departments and agencies across the federal government, including through coordinating bodies at the Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
• Increasing law enforcement resources and bolstering information sharing between the intelligence community and law enforcement.
2. Curbing illicit finance. As the world’s largest economy, the United States bears responsibility to address gaps in their regulatory system, including by:
• Issuing beneficial ownership transparency regulations that help identify bad actors hiding behind opaque corporate structures.
• Enacting first-of-their-kind regulations that target those closest to real estate transactions to reveal when real estate is used to hide ill-gotten cash or to launder criminal proceeds.
• Working with the Congress to make it harder for certain corrupt actors to evade financial control.
• Working with partner countries through multilateral fora, diplomatic engagement, law enforcement cooperation, and capacity building to strengthen their anti-money laundering regimes to bring greater transparency to the international financial system.
3. Holding corrupt actors accountable. By shoring up regulatory gaps and working with partners and allies, the US Government will hold accountable those who choose to engage in corruption, including by:
• Elevating diplomatic and development efforts to support, defend, and protect civil society and media actors, including investigative journalists who expose corruption.
• Launching a new initiative to engage partner countries on detecting and disrupting foreign bribery.
• Establishing a kleptocracy asset recovery rewards program that are held at U.S. financial institutions.
• Working with the private sector to improve the international business climate by encouraging the adoption and enforcement of anti-corruption compliance programs.
4. Preserving and strengthening the multilateral anti-corruption architecture. The U.S. are committed to strengthening multilateral initiatives, commitments, and standards that push countries to make real improvements in countering corruption, including by:
• Working with the G7 and G20 to implement strong transparency and anti-corruption measures across ministerial tracks.
• Building and expanding accountable, effective, and resilient security institutions to target corruption in finance, acquisition, and human resources functions.
• Reinvigorating U.S. participation across a number of initiatives, including the Open Government Partnership and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
5. Improving diplomatic engagement and leveraging foreign assistance resources. To achieve anti-corruption policy goals, the United States will improve its risk management processes and better understand local political, economic, and social dynamics, enhancing these efforts by:
• Elevating anti-corruption work as a priority within its diplomatic efforts.
• Reviewing criteria for government-to-government assistance, including around transparency and accountability.
• Expanding anti-corruption focused U.S. assistance, and monitoring the efficacy of this assistance.
• Building additional flexibility into anti-corruption initiatives and broader assistance efforts to respond to unexpected situations worldwide.
• Bolstering public sector anti-corruption capacity and support, including to independent audit and oversight institutions.
Departments, ministries, and agencies will report annually to the President of the United States on the progress made under this Strategy.
For all countries of the world, the adoption of the Strategy is a direct signal of the readiness of the United States to work on improving anti-corruption measures abroad and improving the means and tools of the fight.