US President Joe Biden on June 3 directed federal agencies to prioritise anti-corruption efforts as a foreign policy and national security issue.
“Corruption is a risk to our national security, and we must recognize it as such,” Biden stated in a National Security Study Memorandum. The memo publicly notified the federal agencies to “up their anti-corruption game”.
The memo directs agencies to review anti-corruption measures in 200 days and submit a report to the President, along with recommendations to improve them, an administration official told reporters.
The official said the directive focuses on financial crimes, including steps to modernise existing anti-corruption laws to confront cryptocurrencies and cybercrime. “We are looking at crypto as a means of illicit finance, but by no means are these steps limited to the new technologies like crypto,” the official said.
The official also hinted at the possibility of updating of the Bank Secrecy Act, the primary means by which law enforcement agencies can track financial institutions. “We’ll be looking for ideas to modernise these systems to respond to new technologies,” the official said. The memo, however, does not name individual countries, specific currencies, or particular kinds of assets.
To ensure reduced offshore financial secrecy and improve information sharing, the US government aims to “robustly” implement new rules established in January that require American companies to report their beneficial owner or owners to the Treasury Department.
The memo released by Biden also identifies the need to address strategic corruption by foreign entities and governments “and their domestic collaborators” in part by “closing loopholes”. The statement is likely in a veiled reference to efforts by Russia, Iran, and other adversaries to fund disinformation campaigns and influence the US elections in recent years.
The anti-corruption fight is part of a broader shift underway towards a new “foreign policy for the middle class.” According to CNBC, the strategy, devised in part by Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, emphasises how foreign and domestic policy can be integrated into a new middle ground between the traditional conservative and liberal approaches to global affairs.
First Published: IST