I recently saw a report that there is a new London bus tour. However, rather than focusing on some of the more traditional sites of one of the world’s most iconic cities—such as Big Ben, the Tower of London, or Buckingham Palace—this tour features the proceeds of corruption. It is a tour of properties alleged to have been purchased with monies purloined from the country of Nigeria by the country’s former oil minister, the disgraced and now arrested, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
For every corrupt government official, there is an equally corrupt person ready to launder the money in some manner. One of the favorite mechanisms of corrupt officials from former British colonies was to purchase expensive properties in the City of London. The U.S. government has been at the forefront of attempting to recovery monies through its Anti-Kleptocracy legislation and related civil actions for properties situated in America.
One of the problems is that, unlike the international cooperation in bribery and corruption investigations, there is seemingly little cooperation in prosecution of the bribe received and more importantly in the returning of stolen assets. Financial crimes investigator Aaron Sayne noted, “There is little agreement or co-operation between different actors in government in how to recover lost funds.” Even when there is aggressive civil prosecution, as has been seen by the U.S. efforts around the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, such actions always take a back seat to criminal actions.
As the fight against bribery and corruption becomes not only more global in terms of investigative cooperation but enforcement, the next logical step is to go after the proceeds of those corrupt acts. Corrupt officials must find ways to launder their stolen monies out of their home countries. While the shaming portion of a London bus tour might not seem as a good mechanism to begin such an effort, if viewed as a start is certainly can be taken as a positive.