January 24, 2023

Young, Cardin Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Combat International Corruption

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)both members of the Senate Finance and Senate Foreign Relations committees, today re-introduced the Combating Global Corruption Act, legislation that would raise the profile of efforts to fight international corruption by publicly naming countries where corruption is rampant and governments are not living up to commitments they have made to combat corruption.

Recognizing that fighting corruption must be a national security priority of the United States, the legislation creates a ranking system for corruption similar to the successful Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, International Religious Freedom Report and the annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

“Global corruption often exacerbates conflict, humanitarian suffering, and political crises. In places like Burma and Venezuela, corruption has undermined the rule of law and stood in the way of humanitarian aid reaching those in need. Our bipartisan legislation aims to combat international corruption by standing with the world’s most vulnerable, calling out perpetrators, and holding those in power responsible for their actions,” said Senator Young.

“Corruption is a fundamental obstacle to peace, prosperity, and human rights all around the world. Where there are high levels of corruption, we find fragile states, authoritarian states, or states suffering from internal or external conflict,” said Senator Cardin. “Deterring and defeating corruption, and punishing the corrupt actors, increases the security of the U.S. and fellow democracies. Our bipartisan legislation, which is in line with President Biden’s declaration that fighting corruption is a core national security priority and has previously been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will provide a new tool to incentivize other governments to cooperate with America’s fight against corrupt actors.”

Global corruption erodes trust and confidence in democratic institutions, the rule of law, and human rights protections. It also damages the United States’ competitiveness and creates barriers to economic growth in international markets. Around the world, corruption endangers national and international security by fostering the conditions for violent extremism, hampering the ability of the United States to combat terrorism, entrenching high poverty, and by weakening institutions associated with governance and accountability.

The Combating Global Corruption Act would require the State Department to rank the countries of the world in a public, three-tiered system with respect to how robustly they are working to combat corruption, similar to the Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report, which also uses a tiered ranking system. The bill would ask the State Department to evaluate foreign persons engaged in significant corruption in the lowest tiered countries for consideration under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act; and designate an anti-corruption point of contact at U.S. diplomatic posts in the two lower tiers of countries.

An identical measure is being introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Bill Keating (D-Mass.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Maria Salazar (R-Fla.)