The AmCham Corporate Ethics and Transparency Committee had the pleasure to meet with Peter J. Ainsworth, Senior Anti-Corruption Counsel – Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice. The discussion was moderated by Aleš Avbreht from Law firm Avbreht, Zajc & Partners, and it was focused on the enforcement of anti-corruption, the role of companies and the government and comparison of the current situation in the U.S. and Slovenia.
Mr. Ainsworth stressed the important role of companies in anti-corruption enforcement and sees the solution for larger enforcement in companies policing themselves: “If a responsible company finds that wrong doing has happened under their watch or they are looking to merge with an entity and they learn that there was a corruption in some way, money laundering, bribery in some form in history of that company, than they can self-report. Why? More often than not it is going to come out eventually. Next step is usually that you hire someone to take a look at happened and do an internal investigation. This is not going to replace police or prosecutors who are supposed to do their job, but it can actually lead them in the right direction.”
»The question has been raised why bother us, why bother business community? If we don't have a government that is willing to police itself and willing to create clean environment for business to be attracted to, we will not get foreign investments, which can result in unemployment and ultimately we can be harmed economically. As citizens we should feel that our country needs to be in “the rule of law club” and “good government club”. We want to raise our children in environment which is clean and ethical,« added Ainsworth.
Mr. Ainsworth also mentioned that if a company is involved in a corruption case that has any ties with the U.S. (ownership, trading at U.S. stock exchange and similar) can get treated as the U.S. domestic case, and they are very interested in those cases from all over the world. Meaning that country borders do not keep companies or individuals safe from being prosecuted in the U.S. Moreover, also OECD got quite serious about their assessments of performance on the part their member countries. “The point is that the countries are joining forces. It’s win-win situation for all sides. The evidence collected by developed nation which helps in anti-corruption procedure in less developed nation is good motivation for them and it shows them the right direction,” explained Mr. Ainsworth.
One of the most famous cases, in which countries cooperated, was case of former prime minister of Ukraine, who was extorting and accepting bribes from business people in Ukraine. He took all that money and put it in some banks in Caribbean, but he also started investing it in real estate market in San Francisco. Ukraine started an investigation, U.S. learned about it because they made a request for evidence, and started its own investigation. When he landed on JFK in NYC, U.S. police arrested him for money laundering (in Ukraine he had immunity).
Mr. Ainsworth also commented on a fact that people are not ready to be whistleblowers due to lack of punishment for the committers of corruption: “It is on government to solve this problem. Government has to create their own mechanism for rewarding their “whistleblower”. There are going to be instances of injustice on both sides, but we have to do the best we can and work together.”