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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2020

Sally Junsong Wang

The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical comparative analysis on cross-border suspect wealth issues and international efforts to curb corruption-related…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical comparative analysis on cross-border suspect wealth issues and international efforts to curb corruption-related suspect wealth. Through the lens of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) Initiative, this paper illustrates the strength and limitations of current anti-corruption frames and as a result, sheds lights on the dilemmas of tackling suspect wealth on the ground.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper begins with an overview of the magnitude of suspect wealth; then it compares the focuses of the UNCAC and the StAR Initiative. The author draws upon lessons from previous suspect wealth settlement cases to illustrate the limitations of applying the international frameworks. Finally, this paper takes China as case study to highlight lessons for future anti-corruption efforts.

Findings

According to the StAR Initiative, $20–$40bn worth of public assets are stolen via corruption each year, amounting to 20% to 40% of development assistance annually. But the most recent data estimate that the total assets repatriated from OECD countries were $423m from 2006 to 2012, which was only a small fraction of estimated stolen assets. This highlights that tackling suspect wealth not only has moral value but also provides practical benefits for countries seeking development finance.

Research limitations/implications

The UNCAC has brought international cooperation and the importance of transparency to the forefront of tackling suspect wealth. It creates an international norm for recovering and repatriating stolen assets. But due to its loose implementation and enforcement, the UNCAC has left loopholes in anti-corruption policymaking, particularly in countries lacking the rule of law. By comparison, the StAR Initiative takes innovative approach such as using insolvency for asset recovery and country-based capacity building to strengthen originating countries’ ability to repatriate assets. Both the UNCAC and the StAR Initiative are well-intended, but authoritarian regimes and weak rule of law often create dilemma for international collaboration.

Practical implications

This paper provides recommendations on how to further tackle suspect wealth with existing international frameworks.

Social implications

Reducing suspect wealth contributes to society equity and restores public trust by recovering much needed public assets and development resources.

Originality/value

This paper illustrates the effect of UNCAC and the StAR Initiative through a comparative lens. It demonstrates how rising authoritarianism can create dilemmas for work against corruption and suspect wealth. Finally, it provides potential policy prescriptions for navigating such dilemmas via shared international efforts.

Details

Journal of Money Laundering Control, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-5201

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 11 November 2020

Sally Junsong Wang

The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical analysis on aid-related misconduct and sectoral regulatory failures. Via a series of Oxfam revelations, this paper…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide an empirical analysis on aid-related misconduct and sectoral regulatory failures. Via a series of Oxfam revelations, this paper aims to highlight potential civil and administrative remedies to rectify wrongdoings and increase accountability in aid organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Chronicling recent revelations of misconduct by aid workers, this paper begins with an overview of moral and legal responsibilities of the entrusted; then it illustrates how the Oxfam misconduct violates those moral and legal responsibilities in aid delivery. The author draws upon legal and administrative dilemmas on regulating the aid sector and aid workers’ behavior. Finally, this paper offers practical civil remedies for the harmed and administrative remedies for long-term institutional reforms.

Findings

The damage – across a broad spectrum of interests, caused by aid workers engaging in exploitative conduct – not only is a betrayal of the trust reposed by vulnerable people in these individuals but also a failure with far-reaching implications on the part of the donor organizations. The use of the criminal law in aid-related misconduct is highly problematic, assuming a specific offense is committed (which, in many cases, it may not have). There are jurisdictional limitations on the ability of donor countries and international regulations other than in regard to peacekeepers are almost nonexistent. Given such context, civil and administrative remedies provide a viable alternative for the harmed who seek justice.

Research limitations/implications

Legal remedies can be highly jurisdictional contingent. Depending on the specific jurisdiction where misconduct takes place, there are potentially other suited remedies not mentioned in this paper to address aid workers’ unethical behavior.

Practical implications

This paper provides tips on using existing legal channel (the civil law) and available pro bono resources to hold transgressors and their employers accountable.

Social implications

Effective regulating aid-related conduct prevents further harm on vulnerable people and restores public trust in the aid sector.

Originality/value

This paper addresses the regulatory blind spot on aid workers’ exploitative conduct through the context of Oxfam revelations. Second, it provides practical policy recommendations for navigating legal and administrative dilemmas on regulating aid workers’ behavior.

Details

Journal of Money Laundering Control, vol. 24 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1368-5201

Keywords

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