Global Corruption: Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World

by Mark Rowe

Author: Laurence Cockcroft


Review date: 02/03/2024

No of pages:

Publisher: IB Tauris

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 25/02/2013


Global Corruption: Money, Power and Ethics in the Modern World

A powerful, detailed, wide-ranging and unsettling book sets out just how important the fight against worldwide corruption is.

A snake which will respond with poison, and will die only with repeated attack. That is how Laurence Cockcroft, a founder of the campaign group Transparency International, describes corruption. He makes plain how widespread the problem is, for instance in China, India and Africa. But we cannot be smug; if it takes a bribe for a third-world country to give an arms contract or a licence to mine for diamonds, a country or a company (or agent) from the first-world has probably paid it. The author lists three ‘major roadblocks’ to fighting corruption, quite apart from the power of those who gain from corruption, and can call on paid politicians and politicised judges. In nearly country where corruption is endemic, there’s an ‘informal’ or ‘shadow’ economy; corruptly-gained funds can be laundered off-shore; and western governments have other concerns besides fighting corruption. Cockcroft describes how the western world backed dictators with money and turned a blind eye to corruption, if the dictators were on the side of the west in the Cold War. Since the fall of Communism, the United States and other western countries have spoken to tackling corruption, but as Cockcroft shows, the going has been tough, and the gains so far modest; because corruption is entrenched, and works with organised crime. Why bother? The author shows how corruption drives poverty and inequality and is even bad for the planet. The author throughout makes it uncomfortably obvious how corruption is personal, whether a policeman holds a car up at a roadblock until he gets a bribe, or loggers corrupt politicians for permission to cut rain-forests. He concludes: “But the snake will die only if severed at the head.”


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