International Anti-Corruption Day 2021: Spotlight on Individuals Sanctioned for Serious Corruption

Today, 9th of December, marks Anti-Corruption Day. As cross-border corruption continues to threaten the rule of law and sustainable development, we at CiFAR have continued documenting the people under anti-corruption sanctions and analysing sanctions as a tool against cross-border corruption and for asset recovery.

Anti-corruption sanctions

The theft of public funds and resources by public officials hurts people at all ends of the spectrum. In countries experiencing high-levels of theft of public money, cross-border corruption deprives them of resources that could otherwise be spent on access to high quality public services. In countries on the receiving end of dirty money, it contributes to an environment where politics, finances and markets are influenced by corrupt wealth.

In order to better respond to cross-border illicit financial flows and to signal disapproval of acts of serious corruption, increasing numbers of financial centres have been adopting sanctions regimes targeting people accused of corruption. 

This year in April, the UK launched a new sanctions regimes via its Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021, to prevent and combat serious corruption. Just last week, Australia announced new regime against individuals implicated in malicious cyber activity, serious human rights abuses and violations, and serious corruption via the Autonomous Sanctions (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Amendment Bill 2021.

These regimes follow the rationale of Canadian Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, the US Global Magnitsky Act, as well as others, that freeze the assets of designated individuals implicated in serious corruption and/or human rights abuses no matter what their citizenship, without the need to create a special country-focused sanctions regime.

Sanctions Watch

While the growing number of anti-corruption sanctions signals increased coordination across financial centres in identifying and freezing the assets of people implicated in grand corruption cases, the designations made under each regime differ. This is both in regards to the people sanctioned, and the amount of published information about their alleged wrongdoing. Further, while sanctions for corruption can be seen as a positive development, this matters little if nothing further is done towards prosecuting and recovering illicitly acquired wealth.

In 2017, CiFAR, together with Transparency International EU, developed a website to provide information on and engage with sanctions imposed by the EU against individuals suspected of large-scale corruption. Soon, we be launching an extended version of this Sanctions Watch website, a one-of-a-kind resource on misappropriation sanctions, which has been updated to include profiles of individuals sanctioned for corruption across all key anti-corruption regimes.

This new website aims to remedy the lack of information available about anti-corruption sanctions in one place and to serve as a resource for investigative journalists and activists in their fight against corruption across the world.

Blog by Lucia Cizmaziova, CiFAR Project Coordinator.