Monday, August 14

Kleptocrats beware! But where will the United Nations go?

Last week President Bush presented the National Strategy To Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy. All well and good, but I see from the accompanying fact sheet that the strategy is based on the January 2004 presidential proclamation to "To Generally Deny Entry Into The United States Of Persons Engaged In Or Benefiting From Corruption. "

So now that the strategy has become official, just how does the US execute the proclamation without shutting down more than half the embassies in the US and barring the United Nations from US shores?
President's Statement on Kleptocracy
For too long, the culture of corruption has undercut development and good governance and bred criminality and mistrust around the world. High-level corruption by senior government officials, or kleptocracy, is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most invidious type of public corruption. It threatens our national interest and violates our values. It impedes our efforts to promote freedom and democracy, end poverty, and combat international crime and terrorism. Kleptocracy is an obstacle to democratic progress, undermines faith in government institutions, and steals prosperity from the people. Promoting transparent, accountable governance is a critical component of our freedom agenda.

At this year's G-8 meeting in St Petersburg, my colleagues joined me in calling for strengthened international efforts to deny kleptocrats access to our financial systems and safe haven in our countries; stronger efforts to combat fraud, corruption, and misuse of public resources; and increased capacity internationally to prevent opportunities for high-level public corruption. Today, I am announcing a new element in my Administration's plan to fight kleptocracy, The National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts against Kleptocracy, which sets forth a framework to deter, prevent, and address high-level, public corruption. It identifies critical tools to detect and prosecute corrupt officials around the world, so that the promise of economic assistance and growth reaches the people.

Our objective is to defeat high-level public corruption in all its forms and to deny corrupt officials access to the international financial system as a means of defrauding their people and hiding their ill-gotten gains. Given the nature of our open, accessible international financial system, our success in fighting kleptocracy will depend upon the participation and accountability of our partner nations, the international financial community, and regional and multilateral development institutions. Together, we can confront kleptocracy and help create the conditions necessary for people everywhere to enjoy the full benefits of honest, just, and accountable governance.
From the fact sheet, here are the key anti-kleptocrat initiatives embraced by the strategy:
> Launch A Coalition Of International Financial Centers Committed To Denying Access And Financial Safe Haven To Kleptocrats.
The United States Government will enhance its work with international financial partners, in the public and private sectors, to pinpoint best practices for identifying, tracing, freezing, and recovering assets illicitly acquired through kleptocracy. The U.S. will also work bilaterally and multilaterally to immobilize kleptocratic foreign public officials using financial and economic sanctions against them and their network of cronies.

> Vigorously Prosecute Foreign Corruption Offenses and Seize Illicitly Acquired Assets. In its continuing efforts against bribery of foreign officials, the United States Government will expand its capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal violations associated with high-level foreign official corruption and related money laundering, as well as to seize the proceeds of such crimes.

> Deny Physical Safe Haven. We will work closely with international partners to identify kleptocrats and those who corrupt them, and deny such persons entry and safe haven.

> Strengthen Multilateral Action Against Bribery. The United States will work with international partners to more vigorously investigate and prosecute those who pay or promise to pay bribes to public officials; to strengthen multilateral and national disciplines to stop bribery of foreign public officials; and to halt bribery of foreign political parties, party officials, and candidates for office.

> Facilitate And Reinforce Responsible Repatriation And Use. We will also work with our partners to develop and promote mechanisms that capture and dispose of recovered assets for the benefit of the citizens of countries victimized by high-level public corruption.

> Target And Internationalize Enhanced Capacity.The United States will target technical assistance and focus international attention on building capacity to detect, prosecute, and recover the proceeds of high-level public corruption, while helping build strong systems to promote responsible, accountable, and honest governance.
If it all sounds like a bunch of words on paper -- no, it's gone beyond that stage but getting it down on paper with international backing for the initiatives was the hardest part.

If this is to be Liberty's Century, all freedom loving nations must fight high-level corruption as if the fate of civilization hangs in the balance.

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