Report Shines Light on Unaddressed Corruption Risks in UK

In viewing “corruption” as a problem primarily affecting foreign countries, the UK may be rendering itself blind to its many manifestations on its own shores, says a report released by the Fraud Advisory Panel on Monday. 

london bridgeThe report calls attention to potentially rampant domestic corruption (Pixabay)The paper opens with a simple question: Does the United Kingdom have a corruption problem? 

 It moves on to highlight some high-risk areas, such as nepotism, political conflicts of interest, revolving doors, and self-regulation, all of which allow ill-intentioned individuals to “divert resources and opportunities away from legitimate recipients, [concentrate] power and advantage, and [corrode] trust.” 

It notes, however, that “there is this tacit agreement that such things are not really full-fat crimes (...) what some coyly call ‘small-c corruption,’” and that while the country has dedicated infrastructures for policing foreign bribery and “fraud” generally, it lacks a clear, well-funded mechanism to investigate domestic corruption. 

The National Crime Agency’s anti-corruption unit, for example, is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), rather than the Home Office. 

In December 2017 the U.K. government published its 2017-2022 Anti-Corruption Strategy, in which then-Home Secretary Amber Rudd articulated the need to develop domestic-facing anti-corruption policies in the UK.

“We are not immune from the effects of corruption,” Rudd wrote, saying that corruption “can undermine confidence in our institutions and our business reputation more widely.” 

She added that with 2010’s Bribery Act and 2017’s Criminal Finances Act, the UK has “arguably done more than any country in the world to fight corruption.” 

However, the FAP report scrutinizes the rigor of the domestic-facing infrastructures of these policies and strategy, noting that the Anti-Corruption Strategy doesn’t identify the central government or financial sector as “high risk” areas for corruption. 

It also draws attention to the lack of research and data on domestic graft.

“To say the domestic picture is neglected and poorly understood would be an epic understatement.”