On June 3, 2021, President Biden issued a Memorandum on Establishing the Fight Against Corruption as a Core United States National Security Interest (the “Memo”). The Memo recognized the current Administration’s emphasis on curbing corruption domestically and abroad through strong governance and transparency. In it, the President shared a vision of ten goals of a future strategy, which the White House’s official fact sheet summarizes in five main themes:
- modernize, coordinate, and resource efforts to better fight corruption;
- curb illicit finance;
- hold corrupt actors accountable;
- build international partnerships; and
- improve foreign assistance.
As a next step, the Memo ordered fifteen federal agencies—including the U.S. Department of Justice, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, and the U.S. Agency for International Development—to collaboratively submit a report within 200 days. The report will include a specific plan to achieve the anti-corruption goals outlined in the Memo.
The Memo is the latest in several recent government attempts to address anti-corruption. In April, Biden declared a national emergency via executive order that included as a threat Russia’s use of “transnational corruption to influence foreign governments.” The executive order led to the sanctioning of dozens of Russians allegedly involved in hacking and election meddling. In May, the Department of Justice impaneled a Texas grand jury to investigate whether Toyota bribed Thai judges to overturn a $350 million tax judgment. Just prior to the issuance of the Memo, Congress announced a newly formed Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy, with goals to “educate and mobilize Members of Congress on the cross-jurisdictional nature of foreign corruption and identify bipartisan opportunities to work together to curb kleptocracy.” And, the White House confirmed that anti-corruption was part of the agenda during Vice President Harris’ recent visit to Latin America.
A report stemming from the Memo should be forthcoming by the end of 2021.