Cobus de Swardt’s formidable contributions to fighting corruption and promoting social justice

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Cobus de Swardt, who joined Transparency International (TI) in 2004 as Deputy Managing Director of the International Secretariat, served as MD from mid-2007 to early 2017, and then was appointed as TI’s Special Representative, will be leaving TI at the end of this year.

Mr. de Swardt has made extraordinary contributions to Transparency International in his 13 years at TI’s Berlin Secretariat. During his tenure as MD, the annual income to the TI Secretariat more than trebled to a peak of €27 million. As a result, TI increased its impact, significantly expanding the range and scale of programmes and projects, and enhancing the capacities of many of TI’s 100 national chapters. The formidable strengthening of the TI global movement extended the organization's influence and reputation, securing its position as the leader in the international fight against corruption.

Cobus de Swardt was the first African at the helm of TI and he built a TI Secretariat of significant gender and geographical diversity. This, in turn, promoted an ambitious and global TI agenda that placed citizen engagement and grass roots activism at the core of many facets of TI’s work against the abuse of power by politicians, civil servants and business people. Further, he led efforts to deepen ties between TI and other leading international non-governmental organizations to strengthen the impact of anti-corruption projects and campaigns worldwide.   

Over the last decade, under Cobus de Swardt’s management, the Secretariat has played central roles, working with the TI national chapters, to increase the explicit impact of anti-corruption initiatives and campaigns in the health and education sectors; in boosting public understanding of the damage to the environment of corruption; in pressing for far greater transparency in transactions in the natural resources, pharmaceuticals and defence sectors; and, in advancing efforts to secure social justice and human rights.

Cobus de Swardt, working with TI’s Board of Directors, raised the bar on many fronts when it came to investigating and then providing sustainable solutions to critical issues related to the disruption of international financial stability through money laundering and illicit transactions; and, to the broad canvass of concerns related to integrity and accountability at all levels of public sector governance.

Cobus de Swardt’s singular personal attributes as a manager and as a colleague have secured additional contributions: he has been an inspirational, charismatic leader and spokesman who has increased public awareness in many countries and at many major official institutions of the ties between corruption and poverty and injustice, and between corruption and strategic security. He has devoted great energy to working with others to secure the safety of anti-corruption and pro-democracy activists and investigative journalists who face constant personal threats and dangers.

The Board of Directors of Transparency International underscores its respect and admiration for Mr. de Swardt and wishes him every success in his future career.


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