The US is considering whether to use fines collected from its bribery prosecutions to help finance anti-corruption efforts abroad.
A bill, known as the Countering Russian and Other Overseas Kleptocracy (CROOK) Act, has been drafted with the intention of helping countries tackle corruption by both their population and foreign officials.
The US House of Representatives version of the CROOK Act would create a fund that would be used to help foreign governments adopt and uphold anti-corruption standards. This would include creating fully accountable “prosecutorial, and judicial bodies.” The fund would be financed by taking 5% of each civil and criminal fine that is imposed on companies that breach the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
The CROOK Act has gained support from a number of anti-corruption organisations, including Transparency International and Global Witness. It is one of a number of pieces of legislation included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the House of Representatives three months ago. Whether it becomes a reality depends on it being included in the Senate’s final version of the NDAA, which is expected to be voted on by the end of the year.
If the CROOK Act receives final approval and is signed into law, it could certainly plug a hole in the US’ attempts to tackle corruption. The 2018 Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision in US v Hoskins confirmed that the FCPA does not cover foreign officials who receive bribes, unless they do so while within the US. Yet while the CROOK Act may prove effective, it would be likely to further fuel international criticism that US law enforcement is using the FCPA as a covert mechanism to exert a form of economic dominance over other countries – an accusation that has been repeatedly aimed at the US.