Attorney General Eric Holder told an audience in Paris Monday that he and President Barack Obama are committed to battling corruption as "one of the great struggles of our time."
Holder, addressing the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said the World Bank estimates that more than $1 trillion in bribes are paid out each year.
"Put simply, corruption undermines the promise of democracy," Holder said. "It imperils development, stability and faith in our markets. And it weakens the rule of law."
The attorney general said that battling corruption required global cooperation because "corruption erodes, even destroys, the faith of citizens in their governments" and endangers economic stability.
"As I speak, a corrupt official somewhere is enjoying undeserved and illegal proceeds," Holder said. "He may be driving a brand-new luxury car. She may be filling her off-shore bank account with tainted cash. They may be traveling first-class on all-expenses-paid holidays."
"...Bribery in international business, for example, may center on shell companies and wire transfers, but no matter where — or how — it happens, the corrosive result is the same: stymied development, lost confidence and distorted competition. The result is unfairness, not justice; the consequence is economic decay, not development."
Holder told the group that, as attorney general, he has "made combating corruption one of the highest priorities of the Department of Justice."