Corruption in the west is no longer a taboo issue since it is current in public discussion in both the US and the EU. But questions surrounding the dynamics of corruption are only just being recognised. In a new book, ‘Unmasked : Corruption in the West’ Laurence Cockcroft and Anne-Christine Wegener explore the structure of corruption across nine sectors in both the US and the EU, ranging from politics and finance to sport and the environment. They show that in each of these areas decisions and outcomes are being determined by money rather than the public interest and that a recognition of this by the public has played into the rise of populist politics. The partial capture of politics by super wealthy donors has now reinforced the more traditional capture of decision making by organised crime (for example in construction and counterfeit goods) and by multinational companies whose lobbying power often amounts to policy capture. In sport the regulatory role of international organisations, such as a FIFA has been totally undermined by the ways in which its leaders have enabled corporate backers to subvert the allocation of resources for their own ends. The ability of the judicial system to fight these newer forms of corruption is strictly limited both by shortcomings in the judicial and police systems and by political pressure. Although civil society is active on these issues in social media it has not yet found a way to exert decisive influence.
‘Unmasked : Corruption in the West’ calls for much more recognition of the issue in the west and for a tougher line from governments. The authors argue that we are at a critical stage where the gains won in the international context through the work of the OECD, UNCAC, the EU Commission and the G20 are now in jeopardy at a time when progress is being made in the fight against corruption in many developing countries and where setbacks in the west will have an impact on that fight.’
Laurence Cockcroft is a development economist who is a Co-founder of Transparency International, has served as Chairman of its Uk Chapter and is the author of ‘Global Corruption : Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World’ (Penn Press, 2012 ).