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Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on U.S. Anti-Corruption Strategy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing on the implementation of the U.S. anti-corruption strategy. Witnesses included Mr. Richard Nephew, coordinator of global anti-corruption at the State Department, and Ms. Shannon Green, assistant to the administrator at the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance of the United States Agency for International Development.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Important issues, no doubt.

“Corruption is an issue that undermines the health, safety, security, and economic prosperity of billions of people around the globe. It’s not just an issue of good governance and transparency. Eliminating it is fundamental to the rule of law. It is a big issue and doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

“Strategic corruption – the weaponization of corrupt practices for geopolitical gain – is a key vehicle for Russian and Chinese malign influence. It is in our interest to identify international kleptocrats and crooks and hold them accountable.

“We have a number of tools for doing this, including the Global Magnitsky Act. However, I am concerned about the potential misuse of some these authorities, particularly the 7031(c) authority. I led a letter last month expressing concern of its misuse in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Russia keeps its war machine running by using corruption to evade sanctions. This evasion allows it to keep its economy alive and its military supply chains intact.

“For China, bribes and under-the-table deals are key to its empire-building. In fact, corruption is China’s largest export. 

“China-linked criminal groups are rampant in the Pacific Islands, and those partners are asking for U.S. support on anti-corruption initiatives to tackle this issue. Chinese firms are also notorious for their corrupt behavior across Africa and in any nation where they are doing large-scale infrastructure projects.

“The key question remains – how does the president’s anti-corruption strategy address the serious problem of strategic corruption from China, Russia, and other adversaries? We’re looking forward to hearing answers to those today at the hearing.

“With China, we should expose high-level corruption by Chinese officials and demonstrate the real motives behind China’s so-called “partnerships” abroad. We must hold these officials accountable and support our partners in doing the same.

“We should also target China’s illicit financing with our partners. I would like to know how China’s efforts to sanctions-proof its economy and decouple from the U.S. are facilitating illicit financial flows globally, and particularly in Hong Kong.

“With Russia, we must work with groups like Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund to map, expose, and sanction those who are stealing from the Russian people and working to undermine Ukraine. We must also work more closely with Russia’s neighbors to help them unwind the corrupt networks that both smuggle in sanctioned goods and undermine local governance.  

“In Africa, we must address endemic corruption if we hope to achieve sustainable progress in development, democracy, and security – this must be done.

“For instance, the stability of DRC's democracy is crucial for securing vital mineral supply chains and opposing China's influence. Corruption in the DRC significantly hinders these interests and their impact on U.S. national security. The Biden Administration's attempts to combat corruption, particularly in the context of P.G.I.I. investments, are notably inadequate.

“Another example is Somalia. Transparency International consistently ranks it among the most corrupt countries. This corruption undermines U.S. efforts to combat the terrorism group al-Shabaab. For counterterrorism strategies to be effective, the U.S. must intensify its efforts to address corruption, including holding Somalia’s government more accountable.

“In Syria, the Assad regime remains among the most corrupt on the planet. It continues to build luxury properties on the land of murdered Syrians, and Assad’s narco-empire fuels continued atrocities against the Syrian people. My bill, the Assad Anti-Normalization Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House, awaits committee action and is a key tool to hold Assad accountable. I hope this will move forward on the agenda for the coming work period so we can enact that bill.

“At home, weak foreign agent laws and post-employment restrictions exacerbate corruption. The chairman and I passed a provision in State authorization a couple years ago to strengthen post-employment rules for the State Department, but more work needs to be done across the federal government. 

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on all of these issues – these are important issues. With that, I’ll turn it back to the chairman.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on