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Anti-corruption studies

The Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence Programme (GI-ACE) is a partnership between Washington DC-based anti-corruption and open governance body Global Integrity, and the UK Department for International Development (DfID).

It is funding 14 research partners from around the world to generate new and operationally relevant evidence aimed at helping policy makers, practitioners and advocates design and implement more effective anti-corruption initiatives. A GI-ACE inception workshop in London on January 28 and 29 brought together all 14 grantees.

Of the UK projects, Dan Haberly of the University of Sussex will explore the effects of moves to create greater transparency in offshore secrecy jurisdictions. John Heathershaw from the University of Exeter will assess the effectiveness of the international Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regime, looking at how to counter the use of shell companies in six jurisdictions in Africa and Asia. Thorsten Chmura of Nottingham Trent University is running a project based on experimental economics that looks at the interrelationship between the international anti-corruption legal architecture and local social norms and beliefs.

Gerhard Anders of the University of Edinburgh will lead a comparative study of law enforcement and the prosecution of high-level corruption in Nigeria, Tanzania and Malawi. Amrita Dhillon of King’s College London explore auditing mechanisms (top-down versus social) as tools to ensure effective public service delivery in Indian states. Ryan Jablonski of the London School of Economics will lead a team that evaluates different mechanisms, including the use of GPS tracking devices, to reduce drug theft in Malawi.

Northumbria University in Newcastle has received funding of £266,000 over the next two years for a research project: Practical interventions for uncovering and identifying ‘Beneficial Ownership’ as a mechanism to recover the proceeds of corruption. The Nigerian case study will be led by Dr Jackie Harvey, Professor of Financial Management and Director of Business Research at Newcastle Business School. Northumbria will investigate whether international anti-corruption frameworks can be better targeted to reduce opportunities for the proceeds of corruption to be moved across the globe.

Prof Harvey said: “GI-ACE is a research programme of global significance. Awarding an important element of the work to Newcastle Business School reflects Northumbria’s growing international reputation for excellence and world-leading research quality.

“Corruption is a major inhibitor to economic growth, discouraging to domestic and foreign investment and destabilising of governments. Unsurprisingly, international attention has intensified in recent years with global initiatives to counter corruption and money laundering. These have placed requirements upon national governments to increase transparency, reducing opportunities for the legitimate legal and financial infrastructure to be used to disguise and move the proceeds of corruption. Using Nigeria as our case study, this cross-disciplinary and mixed methods research aims to understand current processes and highlight system weaknesses for successfully identifying ‘beneficial ownership’ of funds.

“By creating a simpler, re- balanced and importantly cost-effective solution, we aim to contribute to the prevention of laundering of the proceeds of corruption and to their recovery. An assessment of what works in Nigeria as a means to prevent corruption will provide valuable empirical evidence of what may be transferable to other developing countries.”

Other researchers include Dr Peter Sproat and Dr Sinan Gonul from Newcastle Business School, and Sue Turner, Chris Mitford and Professor Tony Ward from Northumbria Law School.

GI-ACE also has funded three projects given funding in the first phase from 2016 to last year. Looking at procurement, Liz Dávid-Barrett of the University of Sussex leads a team exploring the regulatory framework of donor recipient countries and their interaction with donor regulations. Scott Newton of SOAS is looking at how network-based governance systems based on informal practices affect on specific anti-corruption reforms. Jan Meyer-Sahling of the University of Nottingham is developing work on civil service management practices with a focus on ethics training in Nepal and Bangladesh.

Johannes Tonn, director of GI-ACE, stresses the need for context. He says: “It is increasingly well-recognised that most of the established, top-down technical and regulatory approaches to tackling corruption implemented over recent decades have a very poor record of success.”


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