Now You Can Find out What Happens to U.S. Aid
In a bipartisan vote, Congress passed legislation to require U.S. agencies—the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. State Department among them—to measure the success (or failure) of billions spent on development and economic assistance programs—and share the findings on foreignassistance.gov. Once signed into law the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act will also make public program budgets by country, showing where and how U.S. money is spent. Notably exempt is security assistance, leaving details about how the United States funds, trains, and equips foreign militaries still opaque.
Naming and Shaming in the U.S. Human Trafficking Report
The U.S. State Department released its sixteenth annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, ranking 188 countries’ efforts to prevent human trafficking from best (Tier 1) to worst (Tier 3). Myanmar and Uzbekistan joined six other nations downgraded to the U.S. blacklist—in Myanmar’s case for recruiting and using child soldiers, smuggling minority Rohingya migrants, and official complicity in forced labor. Thailand rose from the bottom rung, despite criticisms that labor abuses in its multibillion dollar fishing industry remain unchecked. Last year investigations revealed top U.S. diplomats manipulated TIP rankings for political ends; this year’s calling out of strategic partners may help restore the report’s credibility.
UK Bribery Act Turns Five
Five years ago the United Kingdom (UK) passed the Bribery Act. It not only makes it illegal for companies to bribe foreign officials (in line with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), it also holds them to task for failing to prevent bribery among subsidiaries and business partners within their supply chains. Others have followed the UK’s lead. Brazil passed its Clean Company Act in 2014, imposing fines of up to 20 percent of revenue for companies that bribe foreign or domestic officials. Ireland has proposed legislation that includes the UK’s rules and adds provisions to force stricter corporate due diligence. The UK Bribery Act’s first half decade only saw two cases resolved: convicting Sweett Group of bribing a UAE official, and settling with Standard Bank for bribery in Tanzania. Last year the Serious Fraud Office took on sixteen new investigations—expect more decisions before the law’s next milestone birthday.