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Ending Impunity for Grand Corruption – An Evening with Jose Ugaz

Written by Philip Jones on Friday, 5 December 2014

José Ugaz, the new global chair of Transparency International, spoke on grand corruption and Transparency International’s future direction at TI-UK’s Annual Lecture last month. Here are the key messages he delivered.


“Now we have very flexible global networks that can operate without boundaries.”

The nature of corruption has already evolved since the start of the 21st century, argued the new global chair of Transparency International (TI) at TI-UK’s Annual Lecture on 20 November.  José Ugaz brings extensive experience and knowledge of international corruption to TI and he spoke to our audience on the new role of global corruption, as well as actions that need to be taken to combat it.

Ugaz argued that due to globalisation and technological advancement, networks are able to work across borders with relative ease.   This transformation, according to Ugaz, is changing the nature of corruption networks from traditional, rigid, ‘mafia’ structures of organised corruption to more flexible networks that are more complex to remove.  In Latin America, Ugaz’s home continent, organised criminal networks are gaining control over portions of states, reducing opportunities for development and weakening public trust in state institutions.

What the world is now experiencing is grand corruption – corrupt acts committed at a high level of government that distort politics or the central functioning of the state, enabling leaders to benefit at the expense of the public good. However, the problem of tackling such a phenomenon is the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for its prevalence.  Corrupt individuals are abusing the political institutions to gain impunity from the law, while those who are supposed to be protected by such institutions are suffering.

So, where do we go from here?

Jose highlighted that there are several actions that need to be taken to combat grand corruption.  Those fighting grand corruption need to break the impunity protecting corrupt individuals and “fry some big fish”. In addition, we need to reduce citizen’s tolerance to corruption.  Most importantly, we have to move to a “more direct and loud action against corruption.

“We now intend to move from our traditional work… to a more direct and loud action against corruption”

The UK has an extremely important role in grand corruption; London, especially, is a favoured destination for hiding illicit funds. In response to this, TI-UK is now on a mission to Unmask the Corrupt

We are turning our attention to high risk sectors and what they are (or are not) doing to prevent corrupt money from entering their supply chain. Our efforts to unmask the corrupt will aim to reduce the role of the UK as a safe haven for corrupt money, shining a light on where and how the UK might be complicit in global corruption.

TI has 20 years of experience as well as the expertise; it’s time to take the next step forward. It’s time to bring an End to Impunity for Grand Corruption.


Read 4077 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 12:18

Philip Jones

Philip is TI-UK's Communications Officer. You can follow him on Twitter at @PBentleyJones

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