I recently had the opportunity to hear a presentation fromLaurence Cockcroft, one of the founders of Transparency International, on the progress made over the last 20 years in exposing and challenging corruption around the world.
And while it was encouraging to hear about the introduction of various pieces of legislation, regulation, and how the rise and rise of social media has enabled instances of corruption to be highlighted much more quickly and easily, I was left wondering if the drive to expose corruption isn’t somehow normalising it...
You see, we increasingly hear of instances of corruption in business, government, and even charities, but the sanctions levied against them subsequently only seem to fuel our outrage further for their seeming insignificance in light of the original transgression. And that’s what’s concerning me – it seems that whenever an MP might fraudulently over-claim their expenses, or companies dodge their taxes, when they’re caught and exposed, their ‘punishment’ seems trivial of how much they’ve originally defrauded others by.
And that starts to create a wider narrative which says: if you cheat, you’ll be caught – but it’s OK as the cost of your punishment will be far less than you’ve gained by illicit means, so why not do it anyway?
Exposing corruption isn’t enough. We also have to fight to ensure that the punishments on those found guilty far outweigh what they hoped to gain by cheating others for their own personal gain.
Global Corruption: a lethal mix of politics, money and crime was one of a series of lectures organised by RSA Yorkshire