6.2 Shaping incentives and limiting opportunities: a full spectrum
Denying corrupt individuals and networks opportunities to hide and use their ill-gotten gains can be an effective sanctioning mechanism, and a likelihood that proceeds of corruption will be confiscated can limit the incentives driving corruption. Since corrupt networks in fragile and conflict states often seek to depose and use the proceeds of corruption in more stable political and economic environments (for Afghan corrupt networks, the ultimate destination was Dubai, where suitcases of illicit cash were deposited and invested), an ability to deny them access to international financial markets and institutions is an effective sanction and deterrent.
Similarly, an ability to travel, make use of educational facilities, and purchase property is stable markets are significant payoffs that can incentivise corrupt practices. Restricting individuals’ ability to use proceeds of corruption to fund travel and education for their families can could change the cost-benefit calculus for engaging in corruption. Visa denials and international asset seizures, usually coordinated by foreign affairs ministries and law enforcement activities, can therefore be important tools in limiting the opportunities and incentives for corrupt networks.
Faced with their systematic use as a safe haven for corrupt money, some countries have introduced regulations enabling them to ascertain the source of money and to seize illegally obtained assets. The UK, for example, has introduced the Unexplained Wealth Orders, which enable authorities to require politically exposed individuals to show the origin of their assets. This could well apply to government officials in mission host nations, and could help track and seize assets removed from the country.
Case Study: Afghanistan: Corruption and the making of warlords
Civil forfeiture: Afghanistan
Civil forfeiture, orchestrated by the US Department of Justice with frequent input from the US armed forces stationed in Afghanistan, was applied to sanction corrupt contractors. As it went often the financial resources of individuals, especially when hidden abroad, practitioners considered it an effective means of deterrence and sanctioning.View case study
Case Study: Corruption and Plan Colombia: The Missing Link
Visa denials: Colombia
During Plan Colombia, the US denied visas to officials – including high-ranking officers and a former president – considered to be corrupt, to have links with drug smugglers, or to have committed human rights abuses. Seen as a vote of no confidence and denial of ability to participate in training courses, a visa denial was a strong sanction with social and professional consequences. Equally, however, visa denials can cause resentment and be seen as an arbitrary measure with great potential to damage career prospects; as all similar measures, visa denials need to be wielded carefully.View case study