Getting Serious about Corruption

Broadcasters Resource | 15 January 2014

Professor Barry Rider from Cambridge University in the UK discusses the challenges facing developing Asia in tackling graft and financial crime. He began by stressing the importance of good governance and robust institutions in reducing corruption.


On cam: Professor Barry Rider

Banks and financial institutions are often cast in the role, or willingly or otherwise, as facilitators of corruption and economic crime. So having robust governance and compliance procedures within those institutions is so important because it’s through those mechanisms that suspicious cases are thrown up and, of course, can then be resolved one way or the other.

What we learned from all these war against drugs and terrorist, finance and so and so forth is to have reasonable expectations. I mean when really one looks at the initiatives that have been taken in other areas of criminality, particularly against the assets of crime. And what we have to deduce is that they haven’t been that effective. So I think in pursuing the financial aspects of corruption one’s got to be reasonable. One also got to realize that there are limits to the efficacy of the criminal justice system. And if one is looking for simple cases of fraud, they are very difficult to prosecute successfully, even with the resources of developed countries. So one’s gotta have reasonable expectations as to what it’s going to deliver through the criminal justice system, so I think that’s the first one.

The second is to, I think, have sufficient specialized resources for the detection and investigation of cases. These cases do require expertise. And then finally, I think, one’s gotta have a reasonably developed system of incentivizing and protecting whistleblowers because at the end of the day most corruption cases are, developed…in confidence, for the benefits of secrecy. So naturally, it is going to be in the inside… of the blowing the whistle, the chances of actually getting the first basic terms of enforcement are a little… so whistleblowing is quite important.

One of the difficulties when one talks in terms of minimizing or eradicating corruption is that once you are looking at a certain type of phenomenon… is looking at the things in the round—this is one of the difficulties some of the transparency index questions. And if you look at that you make a country, which has a very good rating in dealing corruption, which you find that they have problems in other areas of economic criminal activity.

So, yes there are various initiatives you can do—as far as initiative you can take, to stimulate integrity in the society. And you know, education is perhaps the way… look at Hong Kong, particularly CIC, has used education as a means of fighting corruption and instilling in society certain values. But to be perfectly honest, there are… there’s no policy…and there’s certainly no silver bullet.