Green Left Weekly's $250,000 Fighting Fund: who does the corrupting?


Berlin-based Transparency International's latest corruption perceptions report listed Burma and Somalia as the two most corrupt countries in the world. Then comes Iraq, Haiti, Tonga, Uzbekistan, Chad and Afghanistan. The three least corrupt countries were New Zealand, Denmark and Finland. Australia came in 11th, just after Canada but ahead of the US, which was 20th on the list.

None of this is a great surprise, as the poorest countries in the world have long suffered the most from corruption. Forty per cent of countries where corruption is perceived as "rampant" are classified by the World Bank as low-income countries.

Indonesians are still trying to recover US$15-$35 billion stolen by former President Suharto between 1967-98.

However, the report found that "bribe money often stems from multinationals based in the world's richest countries". That's no surprise either!

The world's wealthiest governments don't enforce the OECD Convention on Combating the Bribery of Foreign Public Officials. "Lack of compliance with the convention's provisions continues to hinder corruption investigations and prosecutions", the Transparency International report says.

The Cole Inquiry into illegal payments by the Australian Wheat Board (A$300 million) and BHP Billiton to the former Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein confirmed that Australian companies engaged in corruption with government knowledge and encouragement. Currently, a $100 million payment to the government of Mauritania from Woodside Petroleum is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police, along with eight other companies. But not one corporate executive has been sent to jail yet for such corruption.

Meanwhile, AAP reports that BHP Billiton's outgoing CEO, Chip Goodyear, is leaving the world's biggest mining company "with his wallet bursting at the seams, with a [2007] salary package worth almost $9 million". As long as corporate greed pays so well, corruption won't go away.

Green Left Weekly says the problem is the capitalist system. Global corruption is an unbearable burden, especially on the 1.5 billion people struggling to live on less than US$2 a day (compare that to Goodyear's $21,425 a day!).

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