The United States Government says it is interested in the fight against corruption in foreign countries, including Nigeria, because of its debilitating impacts on nations and how it worsens other problems countries deal with. It added that it would continue to promote financial sanctions and visa restrictions on corrupt actors.
Apart from enabling different forms of criminality, widespread corruption as is found in Nigeria, is said to be related to higher levels of poverty, income inequality and lack of education and health care.
Speaking at a press briefing recently, the newly appointed Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption in the United States, Richard Nephew, described corruption as a core national security issue. He however noted that there was no silver bullet to tackle it other than a bundle of reforms and persistent effort by all parties to achieve results.
Nephew explained that since 2010, the Justice Department had filed cases in court to confiscate over $3.4bn in corruption proceeds, and had successfully confiscated over 1.7bn of the assets, and returned or assisted the return of over $1.6bn to the economies from which the money was stolen.
The US Government had recently signed an agreement with the Federal Government to release Nigeria $23.4m as part of the funds looted by a former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha. So far, the US had repatriated to Nigeria millions of dollars looted by the late dictator.
US ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Leonard, said “this repatriation brings to a total amount of funds repatriated in this case by the US to more than $334.7m.
She added, “It is in recognition of the role corruption plays in undermining democracy that the US considers the fight against corruption as a core national security interest. To that end, President Joe Biden really supported the US strategy in countering corruption last December.”
Meanwhile, Nephew said his team would work directly with foreign governments to bolster progress towards meeting global anti-corruption commitments, including providing assistance when appropriate to those failing to meet international commitments. He added that the team would also engage with civil society organisations and private sector counterparts to hear their perspectives.
He added, ‘‘Corruption is pervasive, frankly, because it is at least temporarily quite lucrative to the people who are engaged in it. And so the main challenge is to deal with corruption across the board because it’s something that is always going to be seen as attractive, and part of our objective is to make sure it’s not. So around the world, we are going to have these kinds of anti-corruption requirements, and we are going to have a number of bilateral relationships to help deal with them.”