Grand theft legal
One year ago yesterday, people rose up in Sudan’s capital Khartoum against the corrupt regime of Omar al-Bashir, starting a revolution that ultimately led to his removal. Just in time for this anniversary, al-Bashir has been sentenced to two years in a community reform facility for corruption — a sentence criticised as too lenient by many.
The Sudanese court also ordered confiscation of over US$113 million in cash that was found at al-Bashir’s residence.
The endemic corruption that marred Sudan during al-Bashir’s three-decade rule continues to pose a serious challenge for the country. It has been present in many forms, from petty bribery to grand corruption involving the former president himself.
Grand corruption is one of the great unresolved legal challenges of our day. Because grand corruption involves the upper echelons of government and laws may be inadequate for prosecuting it, impunity persists.
International action is often the only solution, as we have seen in the case against Teodorin Nguema Obiang, vice president of Equatorial Guinea. In 2017, French authorities took a historic step towards justice when they froze his assets in France. They must now find a responsible and transparent mechanism to return the stolen money to the people of Equatorial Guinea.
Not coincidentally, Equatorial Guinea is also where Yahya Jammeh, disgraced former president of The Gambia is hiding in exile. Jammeh’s reign is a textbook case study of grand corruption at its most extreme; yet, to this day, he has not been charged with a crime.
Full legal accountability of corrupt leaders who embezzle and loot vast amounts of assets, depriving citizens of dignified lives, is an important step to recovery of these nations and future development.
At Transparency International, we are developing a legal definition of grand corruption that could provide the basis for special measures against grand corruption, at the national and international level. There must be no impunity for those who ruin citizens’ lives with their corrupt actions.
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