In recent years, corruption has evolved significantly, becoming a geostrategic weapon used by the most powerful countries and capitals in the world. Transparency International President Delia Ferreira has been a leading voice in the fight against this growing corruption.
In a recent interview, Ferreira pointed out how Europe has been complicit in Russian kleptocracy and called for greater controls to prevent capital from Moscow and Beijing from corrupting Western political and economic systems.
Emergence of strategic corruption
According to Ferreira, globalization has given rise to what she calls “grand corruption”, a phenomenon that transcends borders and involves the main economic forces and the highest authorities of the countries.
However, in the last five years, a new type of corruption has emerged: strategic corruption. This form of corruption involves the geopolitical use of corruption to capture states and influence their political decisions.
This phenomenon has made the work of organizations dedicated to fighting corruption even more difficult, as they face a fragmented, polarized political landscape with weakened institutions.
Influence of corruption on international conflicts
One of the clearest examples of geostrategic corruption is the situation in Ukraine. According to Ferreira, Ukraine had made considerable progress in the fight against corruption, strengthening its institutions and combating corruption in the public sector.
However, this progress was not positive for Russia, which led to the invasion of Ukraine. Although Ferreira does not claim that corruption was the sole cause of the invasion, he stresses that it has had a significant influence on this conflict.
Need for greater controls in Europe
As for the Russian kleptocracy, Ferreira argues that it is essential to establish greater controls to prevent corrupt capital from finding protection in European countries. In this regard, he criticizes the lack of transparency in financial transactions and the lack of regulation in sectors such as the art market in Switzerland, the luxury sector in Paris and the real estate market in New York.
Without greater transparency, it is difficult to apply effective sanctions against Russia, as the connection between corrupt capital and financial institutions in Europe cannot be proven.
The role of “golden visas” in corruption
Ferreira also addresses the issue of “golden visas” offered by some European countries, including Spain, in exchange for large investments. While these visas are presented as a way to attract investment and generate employment, Ferreira warns that they also facilitate the entry of corrupt capital.
Therefore, he considers it necessary to establish stricter limits to this type of visas and to work in collaboration with the European Union to regulate this system and avoid its abuse.
Europe as an accomplice of the Russian kleptocracy
In Ferreira’s opinion, Europe has been an accomplice of the Russian kleptocracy for many years. For this reason, Transparency International is demanding that European countries receiving corrupt capital take concrete steps to combat corruption and promote transparency.
This involves knowing and disclosing the identity of bank clients, as well as lawyers, accountants and notaries who act as facilitators of corruption. In addition, it is necessary to regulate sectors that are currently not subject to regulation, such as the art market, the luxury sector and the real estate market.
Ukraine’s progress towards democratic standards
Although Ukraine has been subject to the Russian invasion and has faced numerous challenges, the country continues to make progress towards democratic standards and the fight against corruption. According to Ferreira, Ukraine has improved in areas such as transparency in public procurement and strengthening its oversight institutions.
These advances are fundamental to building a strong democracy and effectively combating corruption.
Influence of Russia and China in strategic areas
Ferreira also analyzes the growing influence of Russia and China in strategic areas such as Africa and Latin America. In the case of China, Ferreira highlights that while the country has a strict domestic policy against corruption, when it invests in other countries, it often works using corrupt methods to gain political and economic influence.
The same is true of Russia. These countries take advantage of existing corruption in other territories and exploit weaknesses in control systems to achieve their goals.
Corruption in European institutions
Ferreira also addresses the issue of corruption in the European institutions and highlights the case of the so-called “Qatargate”, in which the buying of votes by countries such as Qatar and Morocco in the European Parliament was revealed. According to Ferreira, influence in the institutions is legitimate in a democracy, but it is problematic when it comes to the buying and selling of political decisions. To address this problem, Ferreira suggests the need to create a register of lobbyists and to make transparent the gifts and favors offered to politicians to influence their decisions.
Revolving doors and integrity in public service
Another issue addressed by Ferreira is the phenomenon of “revolving doors”, in which politicians and advisors who have left office take up positions in large companies and consulting firms. Ferreira stresses the importance of establishing codes of ethics and laws to regulate this phenomenon and avoid conflicts of interest.
He also points out the need to adopt incompatibilities and cooling-off periods to prevent public officials from using their position to benefit companies and partners.
Corruption during the COVID-19 pandemic
Ferreira also comments on how the COVID-19 pandemic has generated an increase in corruption globally. The health emergency has resulted in the overturning of controls in public procurement of medical equipment and has concentrated authority in governments, which has facilitated corruption. Ferreira highlights cases of VIP vaccinations, conflicts of interest and ministers buying from their own companies. However, he also warns that it is possible to strike a balance between the need to act quickly and maintaining transparency and controls.
Transparency in the age of social media and artificial intelligence
Finally, Ferreira addresses the challenge of ensuring transparency in the world of social networks and artificial intelligence. He stresses the importance of verifying information and combating disinformation circulating through these channels.
In addition, he warns about the dangers of artificial intelligence and the need to regulate its use, as it can become a form of power that should not be delegated to machines.
Delia Ferreira, president of Transparency International, has forcefully pointed out Europe’s complicity with the Russian kleptocracy and the need to establish greater controls to prevent corrupt capital from corrupting Western political and economic systems. His words invite us to reflect on the importance of transparency and the fight against corruption in an increasingly globalized and polarized world. Only through a firm commitment and concrete actions will we be able to build more just and corruption-free societies.