Biden declares fighting corruption a national security priority

2 weeks ago
# #

The president released a memorandum outlining his anti-corruption agenda.

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden has formally declared fighting corruption a top national security concern in the United States, releasing a memorandum outlining his anti-corruption agenda.

“Corruption threatens national security, economic equality, global anti-poverty efforts and the development of the United States. And democracy itself, the document says. But by effectively preventing corruption, countering it, and demonstrating the benefits of transparent and accountable governance, we can provide a great advantage for the United States and other democracies.”

The memorandum gives the president formal notice “that he expects all relevant federal agencies to intensify specific anti-corruption efforts,” a senior administration official told reporters at a briefing Thursday.

Specifically, the memorandum calls for combating all forms of illicit financing at home and within international financial systems. The president urges U.S. companies to report to the Treasury Department who their ultimate owners are and to reduce their use of offshore schemes.

The Treasury Department’s beneficial ownership registry is designed to effectively prevent anonymous shell companies from hiding illicit assets.

“This is a massive undertaking, an anonymous senior administration source acknowledged. In recent years, we have seen several cases in which proceeds from corrupt schemes have been funneled through shell companies and ended up in major metropolitan areas of the United States in order to offshore the ill-gotten gains.”

According to Gary Kalman, director of Transparency International’s U.S. office, laws in the United States and other developed countries that allow corrupt money to be funneled through financial systems are “a huge problem.”

“The United States is positioned as an honest and open country, yet perhaps more illegal financial transactions pass through it than any other country on the planet,” Kalman said.

Biden’s memorandum directs him to conduct an interagency review within 200 days and provide him with a report and recommendations for further action.

“The United States will set an example for others by fighting the scourge of corruption in partnership with allies, civil society and the private sector, the president said in a statement. But this is a mission for the world, and we must all support courageous citizens around the world who demand honest and transparent governance.”