Veranstaltungen: Dokumentation

Panel III: Globalised networks and corruption

IRRESISTIBLE? A symposium on the phenomenon of CORRUPTION

Saturday, 17 June 2017, 11.30-13.00

PDF-Icon Panel III german

Serhij Leshchenko (deputy of the Ukrainian parliament and investigative journalist, Ukraine)
Elena Panfilova (Transparency International, Russia)
Francecso Calderoni (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy)
Moderator: Volker Weichsel (German Association for East European Studies, Germany)

Audio-Record: Panel 3: Globalised networks and corruption; June 17, 2017 (© 2017 Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung)

Globalization not only brought markets to a transboundary level, but also mechanisms of corruption. Panel III was dedicated to global networks and the question of what constitutes appropriate prevention. What is the impact of this change on the social and political context? Where can new technologies be employed in the fight against international networks of corruption?

After a brief introduction of the panellists by moderator Volker Weichsel, Elena Panfilova, Director of Transparency International Russia, examined the development of corruption. She pointed out that a globalised world makes it impossible to fight corruption at a national or local level, as money acquired through corruption is laundered and thus legalised with the aid of other countries. This process is driven by a huge network, with money also invested in real estate in Western democracies. All of this relies on the notion of corruption as a “noble crime”, which is why the origin of the money is rarely questioned in the case of such investments. Mechanisms thus need to be implemented against “grand corruption”. This requires the support of governments and the banking sector which often seem to block such endeavours.
IRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption - Panel IIIIRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption (© bpb/Dorothea Tuch)

The media as a centrifugal force in the fight against corruption?

These international entanglements were illustrated by Serhij Leshchenko, deputy of the Ukrainian parliament and investigative journalist, using the former Ukrainian President Yanukovych as an example. Yanukovych “enriched himself at the expense of the state” to finance his private paradise, Leshchenko explained, thus giving a preview of the evening’s cultural programme and the documentary film shown there. The money was traced from from Austria to the UK and all the way to Liechtenstein. Leshchenko’s descriptions of successful anti-corruption measures then gave cause for optimism, although their success can only be ensured through good cooperation which is usually based on shared interests. Such interest increases with the creation of an attentive public, leading to greater societal pressure on governments. Leshchenko particularly focused on the role of the media in this process.

Criminal structures are expanding

Italian Professor Francesco Calderoni of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore confirmed this from the perspective of research. Like corruption, other fields of crime are also becoming more international. The networks of the Italian Mafia, for example, are expanding, affecting in particular Spain, The Netherlands and Germany. Mainly involved in drug trafficking, it is easy play for these networks abroad as their existence is little known there. They mainly attempt to build up structures at the local (peripheral) level, using corruption as their means of choice. Fighting such networks requires international cooperation, but this needs, above all, awareness and admission of the “crime problem”. The shocking consequences of “looking the other way” are visible, for example, in the recent Mafia murders in Duisburg.

Panfilova added that awareness had to be created of the international processes of laundering money generated from the drug trade and human trafficking. She once again emphasised that neither corruption nor money laundering are trivial offences. She also added that democracy is an important prerequisite for fighting corruption.

What can be done?

According to Leshchenko, a global movement is needed, similar to the struggle for women’s rights. PR work can help to increase pressure on institutions such as banks and governments. Should it become “sexy” to fight corruption, or should corruption be systematically stigmatized? Panfilova showed that these are not the only available routes. Often, the problem is simply the lack of knowledge on corruption.
Maybe some form of education could help in this respect.
IRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption Panel IIIIRRESISTIBLE? – A symposium on the phenomenon of corruption (© bpb/Dorothea Tuch)
Like most crime, corruption is a male domain, Calderoni explained. This, however, cannot be ascribed to biological gender and the respective characteristics of each sex. The disproportional distribution is rather linked to the lack of opportunity for women in positions of power. Panfilova added that mixed forms of corruption and sexism should also be mentioned where women have to pay with their bodies.

The panel then elaborated key aspects of the debate and drew conclusions. It is important to create new institutions instead of reforming those already corrupted as the latter mostly fails. Also, it is not enough to simply state something is not working – the causes need to be investigated. Corruption cannot be fought by committed individuals alone. Everyone must shoulder their share of responsibility in order to implement effective mechanisms.

Summary: Simon Clemens

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