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Cardin Introduces Major Anti-Corruption Legislation

Accountability Mechanism Styled After Trafficking in Persons Report

WASHINGTON U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced legislation Thursday to track and analyze corruption in foreign countries, an increasingly pervasive problem around the world. 

The Combating Global Corruption and Ensuring Accountability Act of 2016 would require the State Department to author and publicly distribute a report, similar to its annual Trafficking in Persons Report, that summarizes the extent of corruption in countries worldwide and assigns tiered classifications based on certain minimum standards of governmental efforts to combat corruption. 

“Pervasive, entrenched corruption is a growing threat to individual human lives, American national security and international stability. The United States can and should make combatting corruption and fostering transparency cornerstones of our foreign policy,” Senator Cardin said. “This legislation takes a big step toward those important goals. We can and should debate the substantive policy tools we can use to engage in this important work over the short and long term, but I’m also calling on my bipartisan colleagues in the Senate and House to summon the political will to engage in this work. Corruption undercuts American efforts to create a safer, more stable international community and it’s time we recognize and address this fact.” 

The tiers are as follows: 

  1. Tier One: If the government of such country is making serious and sustained efforts to comply with the minimum standards.
  2. Tier Two: If the government of such country is making significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards. 
  3. Tier Three: If the government of such country is making minimal efforts to comply with the minimum standards. 
  4. Tier Four: If the government of such country is making de minimis or no efforts to comply with the minimum standards; 

The legislation specifies transparency and accountability measures for the Department of State, Department of Defense, and USAID to implement in order to increase transparency and accountability for U.S. foreign assistance to Tier 3 and Tier 4 countries. The measures include: conducting corruption risk assessments, creating corruption mitigation strategies, use of anti-corruption clauses in assistance contracts, inclusion of claw-back provisions in assistance contracts, disclosure of beneficial ownership, establishing investigative mechanisms for allegations of misappropriated assistance, and implementation of democracy and governance programs that include anti-corruption components. 

The legislation requires an annual report of resources needed to meet the objectives of the bill’s provisions, would place existing reports with anti-corruption components online, and encourages anti-corruption training for Foreign Service officers.  

The full text of the legislation can be found at this link.