Biden prioritizes anti-corruption efforts in national security policy

Washington — The White House announced Thursday that it will be implementing anti-corruption efforts as a key part of its national security agenda, with President Biden directing agencies to conduct a review of efforts to combat corruption abroad and provide a report within six months with recommendations for further action.

"Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself. But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies," Mr. Biden said in a memorandum released on Thursday.

The memo reaffirms the administration's commitment to "combat all forms of illicit finance in the United States and international financial systems" and "hold accountable corrupt individuals, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators" through sanctions and the pursuit of legal action. It also directs agencies to work with international organizations to combat corruption.

Much of the anti-corruption efforts will focus on stopping illicit money from funneling into the U.S., making it harder for individuals to hide behind anonymous shell corporations and offshore accounts, and closing regulatory loopholes to make engaging in financial corruption more difficult.

"The United States will lead by example and in partnership with allies, civil society, and the private sector to fight the scourge of corruption. But this is a mission for the entire the world," Mr. Biden said in a statement accompanying the memo. "Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It is self-defense. It is patriotism, and it's essential to the preservation of our democracy and our future."

Corruption was a key point of discussion during Secretary of State Antony Blinken's trip to Central America this week, and will also be a focus when Vice President Kamala Harris travels to the region next week.

Kristin Brown contributed to this report.

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