Last week, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) announced the formal establishment of the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre (IACCC). In doing so, the UK fulfilled a commitment made at the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit in London, when they resolved to establish a formal body for graft-related intelligence sharing and asset recovery. According to a press release from the NCA, this new center, which so far has received commitments from law enforcement agencies in five major developed countries, will be dedicated to cooperation and coordinated action against grand corruption.
In the statement, grand corruption is defined as “acts of corruption by politically exposed persons that may involve vast quantities of assets and that threaten political stability and sustainable development.” This includes bribery, embezzlement, abuse of function, and money laundering. The IACCC is intended to be a mechanism through which anti-corruption prosecutors throughout the world can share information related to multi-jurisdictional acts of grand corruption to bring corrupt elites to justice and ensure the recovery of their stolen assets.
Corruption has become a vast global enterprise. It is difficult to estimate the scale of global corruption, given the clandestine nature of corruption and low rate of prosecution. However, recent statistics suggest that $1.5 trillion – two percent of global GDP – is lost every year to bribery. That bribery statistic is independent of other types of corruption, such as embezzlement and money laundering, which have similarly devastating effects on poverty and inequality throughout the developing, and developed, world.
At the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit, where the IACCC was first conceived, then-British PM David Cameron delivered the closing remarks. During the address, Cameron insisted that corruption is a “global phenomenon,” which necessitates the sharing of information across borders in order to prosecute corrupt officials and effectively seize their assets. He followed this statement by saying, “the new International Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Centre we are creating will help police and prosecutors work together to do just that.”
Since the summit, the IACCC has attracted membership from law enforcement agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the USA. Interpol plans to join the body later this year, along with other law enforcement bodies from the USA, including the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations (the FBI has already signed on as a member). In addition, representatives from Switzerland and Germany will remain observers, and on occasion will participate in the IACCC Governance Board meetings.
At this time, the IACCC has some obvious deficiencies, particularly the lack of participation by law enforcement agencies from major developing countries where corruption is rampant, such as China, Brazil, and India. Despite this drawback, the center is still in its infancy, and has the potential to develop into a broader organization to coordinate anti-corruption enforcement throughout the developed and developing world. The establishment of this ambitious organization demonstrates the growing anti-corruption sentiment throughout the global economy.