December 7, 2021

White House issues US Strategy on Countering Corruption

On December 6, 2021, the White House released the first-ever United States Strategy on Countering Corruption (the Strategy).  The Strategy—which was created at the direction of President Biden to improve the U.S. government’s ability to prevent corruption, combat illicit finance, hold corrupt actors accountable, and strengthen front-line actors’ capacity to expose corrupt acts—sets out “a whole-of-government approach” to combating corruption, and places particular emphasis on better understanding and responding to the transnational dimensions of corruption.  The Strategy is organized into five strategic pillars.

• The first pillar, “Modernizing, Coordinating and Resourcing US Government Efforts to Better Fight Corruption,” consists of US government efforts to (i) enhance corruption-related research, data collection, and analysis, (ii) improve information sharing domestically and internationally, (iii) increase focus on the transnational dimensions of corruption, (iv) more effectively organize and resource the fight against corruption, and (v) integrate anti-corruption considerations into regional, thematic, and sectoral government priorities.

• The second pillar, “Curbing Illicit Finance,” consists of efforts to (i) address deficiencies in the U.S. anti-money laundering regime and (ii) work with allies and partners to address governance weaknesses and other deficiencies in the U.S. and international financial systems.

• The third pillar, “Holding Corrupt Actors Accountable,” consists of efforts to (i) continue and enhance US government enforcement efforts, (ii) update the tools available to hold corrupt actors accountable at home and abroad, “including by working with the Congress to criminalize the demand side of bribery by foreign public officials,” (iii) work with partners to create complementary regimes and amplify these efforts, (iv) strengthen foreign government partners’ ability to pursue accountability in a just and equitable manner, and (v) bolster the ability of civil society, media, and private sector actors to prevent corruption and push for accountability.

• The fourth pillar, “Preserving and Strengthening the Multilateral Anti-Corruption Architecture,” consists of efforts to (i) bolster anti-corruption institutions and implement existing frameworks (both domestically and with foreign partners), and (ii) redouble US government efforts in multilateral fora to push for anti-corruption measures and controls.

• The fifth pillar, “Improving Diplomatic Engagement and Leveraging Foreign Assistance Resources to Advance Policy Objectives,” consists of efforts to (i) elevate and expand the scale of diplomatic engagement and foreign assistance, (ii) protect anti-corruption actors, (iii) bolster the prevention and oversight capacities of willing government partners, (iv) leverage innovation in the fight against corruption, (v) improve consistency and risk analysis efforts in connection with foreign assistance, and (vi) improve security assistance and integrate anti-corruption considerations into military planning, analysis, and operations.

The Strategy states that US federal departments and agencies will be expected to report annually to the President to provide updates on progress made towards the achievement of the Strategy’s objectives.