Holder announces initiative to battle corruption in foreign states

The U.S. launched a new initiative
on Sunday aimed at battling large-scale public corruption in foreign

Attorney General Eric Holder
announced the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative at the African Union Summit
in Uganda. In addition to tackling the lucrative field of public bribes, the
new initiative is also aimed at recovering public money and redirecting it to
its intended use.

{mosads}As head of the Department of
Justice, Holder said the U.S. has been assembling a team of prosecutors who
will be devoted exclusively to the initiative. He emphasized that African
countries must strengthen their judicial systems in tandem with the efforts to
prosecute corrupt public officials.

“[I] know that prosecution is not
the only effective way to curb global corruption,” Holder said in prepared
remarks at the African Union summit. “We will continue to work with your
governments to strengthen the entire judicial sector, a powerful institution in
our democracy which depends on the integrity of our laws, our courts, and our

“We must also work with business
leaders to encourage, ensure and enforce sound corporate governance. We should
not, and must not settle for anything less.”

More than $1 trillion in bribes
are paid each year throughout the world, according to the World Bank.

“As many here have learned — often
in painful and devastating ways — corruption imperils development, stability,
competition and economic investment,” said Holder. “It also undermines the
promise of democracy.” 

Holder told the 35-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris at the end of May that he and President Obama are committed to battling corruption as “one of the great
struggles of our time.”

The new initiative was announced
along with a renewed promise to the 53 member countries of the African Union
(AU) to continue to support local and global efforts combating terrorist groups
like Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

Al-Shabaab, which has ties to al-Qaeda, recently took responsibility for several bombings in Uganda that left
74 people dead and 85 wounded as scores of people watched the World Cup in a
rugby club and a restaurant.

The FBI has provided Uganda with
forensic experts to assist in its investigation and has also offered both
technical assistance and intelligence resources to Ugandan officials.

“Like President Obama, I believe
that the 21st century will be shaped by what happens here in Africa,” said
Holder. “Your security and prosperity, the health of your people and the
strength of your civil society, will have a direct and profound impact on the
world’s communities and on the advancement of human rights and human progress

Holder also pledged U.S.
support in spurring economic development in African countries by expanding
current “green” development efforts.

“This goal [of ultimate African
self sufficiency] is driving our work to help Africa develop new sources of
energy, to create green jobs, to grow new crops and to develop new education
and training programs,” he said.

Finally, the U.S. reiterated its
support of African women through the Women’s Justice Empowerment Initiative — a
three-year, $55-million-dollar program developed by the Department of Justice,
the State department and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“In Kenya, South Africa, Zambia
and Benin, this initiative has helped to train attorneys, investigators, law
enforcements officials and medical professionals in an effort to improve
prosecutions and to raise awareness about the special needs of victims,” said

“I do not pretend that the
progress we all seek — and the conditions and opportunities that all African
citizens deserve — will come easily or quickly.”

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