Attorney General Eric Holder gave a strong speech in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday condemning international corruption, calling it a “scourge on civil society.” Read his remarks here.
Speaking at the Sixth Global Forum on Combating Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity, Holder said corruption “strikes hardest at the poor and vulnerable, siphoning scarce resources away from those most in need.” He said the United States would continue to focus on asset recovery, helping countries repatriate stolen monies.
He also called for ratification of the 2003 United Nations Convention Against Corruption, noting that “seven years after it opened for signature, several of the world’s largest economies – including several of our close partners in the G-20 – still have not ratified the Convention.”
Germany, India, Japan, and Saudi Arabia have signed but not ratified the convention, according to the United Nations. And G-20 member Russia – one of the most corrupt countries on the planet, according to Transparency International – hasn’t even signed.
For years, the United States stood virtually alone on the international stage against corruption. The U.S. enacted the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977. But Europe didn’t start to get on board until a series of bribery scandals in the early 1990s kicked started the effort there.
Corruption “erodes trust in government and private institutions alike; it undermines confidence in the fairness of free and open markets; and it breeds contempt for the rule of law,” Holder said.
He added: “There is no gentle way to say it: When kleptocrats loot their nations’ treasuries, steal natural resources, and embezzle development aid, they condemn their nations’ children to starvation and disease.”