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Evaluating the cost of anti-corruption in political and economic terms: a case study approach

Alexandra Hartwig (Department of Politics and International Studies – Centre of Development Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 23 December 2022

Issue publication date: 1 December 2023




The practicality of anti-corruption efforts has been debated in development circles since the 1990s (World Bank, 1998). Moving beyond monetary metrics, this paper seeks to contribute to the discussion by assessing whether the cost of anti-corruption measures is proportionate to international concerns about corruption. This study aims to focus on the Namibian “Fishrot” files, an ongoing scandal that involves bribery, tax evasion and cross-border exploitation for access to the country’s fishing grounds. The Fishrot files implicate parties in both Namibia and Iceland, and the case provides insight into why the costs of financial crime and anti-corruption may be unduly borne by the global East. Especially because corruption stands to disrupt political and economic stability in developing countries, an understanding of these costs is essential for preventing further barriers to development.


This study focuses on the case of the Namibian “Fishrot” files to compare the cost of financial crime with the price of fighting it. It incorporates cost-benefit considerations on anti-corruption from political, economic and environmental perspectives.


This paper suggests that an imbalance in the response to corruption in the global East and West stands to damage development progress in countries like Namibia. It encourages a more holistic approach to anti-corruption efforts, one that acknowledges the heightened cost and burden of such efforts in developing countries.


This study provides a broadened perspective for assessing the effectiveness of anti-corruption initiatives, particularly for cases that involve cross-border financial crime between developing and developed countries.



The author thank the academic staff at the Centre of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, and specifically Professor Barry Rider, for their support in this study. This paper is a product of my Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at the University of Cambridge, which was generously funded by the Anton E B Schefer Foundation.


Hartwig, A. (2023), "Evaluating the cost of anti-corruption in political and economic terms: a case study approach", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 30 No. 6, pp. 1584-1594.



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