Since 1991, with funding from the Department of State, OPDAT has provided expert assistance and case-based mentoring to foreign counterparts to develop justice systems that can combat corruption consistent with international and regional conventions, protocols, and standards. To do so, OPDAT draws upon criminal justice experts with related expertise, including its Resident Legal Advisors (RLA) posted in approximately 50 countries and the Senior Counsel on Global Anti-Corruption, who provides specialized technical advice, training, and consultation to foreign prosecutors, judges, and investigators around the world. The U.S. Transnational and High-Tech Crime Global Law Enforcement Network, a/k/a the International Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property program, supports these efforts by providing capacity building focused on digital evidence and cryptocurrency.
The Senior Counsel leads two courses for judges, prosecutors, and investigators at the Department of State’s International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) facilities around the world: An anti-corruption and asset recovery course for senior criminal justice practitioners focuses on investigating and prosecuting corruption and related money laundering cases; and a course for judges and prosecutors that focuses on the investigation and prosecution of complex corruption cases. In 2022, classes at the ILEAs have begun again in-person. The Senior Counsel hosted two anti-corruption for prosecutors and judges classes: One in March in Budapest for participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Morocco; and one in April in San Salvador for delegations from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Surinam, and several island nations in the Eastern Caribbean. Then in May, the Senior Counsel hosted a course in Budapest for practitioners from Albania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovenia on asset recovery.
Combatting corruption in Latin America
Strengthening the capacity of justice systems throughout Latin America to combat corruption is a top priority for OPDAT.
OPDAT’s programs provide technical assistance, mentoring and training to judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers in combatting transnational crime and its connection to corruption. Specifically, in the Northern Triangle countries, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, OPDAT has dedicated programs and RLAs building the capacity of its counterparts in combatting corruption and money laundering and building more transparent justice systems. In Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Paraguay OPDAT’s anti-money laundering work has also allowed it to undertake anti-corruption efforts and programs with its counterparts. OPDAT programs in the Northern Triangle supported the establishment of the DOJ Northern Triangle Anti-Corruption Task Force, and RLAs continue to coordinate and facilitate exchanges and cooperation on investigations with a U.S. nexus.
OPDAT’s Judicial Studies Institute, based in Puerto Rico, recently held a four-part virtual series on managing public corruption cases for more than 190 judges from Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
Combatting Corruption in Europe
Effectively combatting corruption is a major criterion for the European Union accession process for countries in Central and Eastern Europe and a central policy focus for the United States. OPDAT develops the anti-corruption investigative and prosecutorial capacity of partners throughout the region and provides legislative drafting assistance to strengthen relevant legal frameworks.
Beginning before the war in Ukraine, OPDAT has worked with countries in Southeastern Europe on developing, drafting, and implementing sanctions legislation modeled after the Global Magnitsky Act that will enable restrictions on foreign officials, who are complicity in corruption and human rights abuses. OPDAT is also assisting justice sector institutions to amplify the fight against corruption throughout the region. Additionally, OPDAT and the Department of State’s INL Bureau have established the Global Anti-Corruption Rapid Response Fund, which provides technical assistance and / or case-based mentoring at short notice to foreign patterns seeking to expand their capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption, kleptocracy, and related offenses, and to recover assets.
In Albania, OPDAT supports the newly operational Special Structure Against Corruption, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting high-level corruption, including securing the conviction of the former prosecutor general for concealment of funds as a public official. OPDAT also supports a rigorous system of vetting for all judges and prosecutors in the country, which has resulted in the dismissal of 214 judges and prosecutors for corruption, unexplained wealth, or ties to organized crime, as well as the resignation of 87 others to avoid undergoing vetting.
Recently, with support from OPDAT, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned three Bulgarian individuals for their extensive roles in corruption in Bulgaria, as well as their networks encompassing 64 entities, under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
In December 2021, following OPDAT’s input and guidance, the Romanian government adopted a new National Anti-Corruption Strategy. The strategy includes a new emphasis on crime prevention efforts, as well as on the nexus between corruption, and organized crime, and environmental crime, along with proposed coordinated measures for prevention, investigation, and prosecution.
In Kosovo, with OPDAT’s advocacy and assistance, the Supreme Court adopted corruption-specific sentencing guidelines, making it the only country in the Balkans and one of the few in Europe to use sentencing guidelines.
To assist the battle against corruption in the electoral sector, in Albania and Kosovo OPDAT organized and developed training and mentoring designed to promote the detection, investigation, and—where appropriate—charging of election crimes without disturbing election outcomes. OPDAT also has focused on cybercrimes and election finance offenses that are intended to interfere with the democratic process. In early 2021, OPDAT hosted a virtual workshop in Kosovo for investigators and prosecutors assigned to enforce election laws and worked with counterparts in Albania, who are preparing for an upcoming election.
In North Macedonia, OPDAT supports and mentors prosecutors at the Organized Crime and Corruption Prosecution Office, which investigates and prosecutes public corruption including bribery, procurement fraud, abuse of official position, and trading in influence. In April 2022, with OPDAT’s assistance, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on two former public officials for their involvement in significant corruption that threatened the stability of the Western Balkans. OPDAT also facilitates communication between prosecutors and anti-corruption institutions. In April 2022, ODPAT hosted a roundtable workshop with prosecutors, the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption, and the State Auditor’s Office where they committed to developing a formalized plan for communication and coordination to better tackle corruption investigations.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, OPDAT assists the country’s anti-corruption interagency working group whose efforts led to several high-level investigations.
In Serbia, OPDAT helped to establish specialized police and prosecutor anti-corruption units and is working to enhance the capacity of these units to combat official corruption, procurement fraud, bribery, and embezzlement. OPDAT is also embedding an RLA in the Serbian Republic Public Prosecutors Office.
Throughout the Baltics, Balkans, and in Malta, OPDAT provides direct case-based mentoring to local prosecutors on high-profile complex corruption, money laundering, and illicit asset recovery cases, while providing advisory assistance on justice-sector legislation and policy.
Combatting Corruption in Asia
OPDAT’s Asia programs are diverse, focusing on combatting various crimes, including money laundering and corruption, and promoting criminal procedure amendments and institutional reforms of the prosecution services and law enforcement entities.
In Bangladesh, OPDAT works to improve the capacity of the Anti-Corruption Commission to prosecute corruption; and with law enforcement, the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Ministry of Law to strengthen Bangladesh’s ability to investigate and prosecute money laundering. For example, in March 2022, OPDAT hosted a virtual program for investigators, attorneys, and judges from multiple agencies on recurring issues in money laundering investigations, including sessions on the use of cryptocurrency to launder money and creating and utilizing effective summary exhibits in money laundering cases. Then, in May 2022, OPDAT hosted a program for thirty Anti-Corruption Commission investigators and panel attorneys that focused on international evidence and investigator-prosecutor collaboration.
In Indonesia, OPDAT helps combat corruption by working closely with relevant Indonesian agencies including the Corruption Eradication Commission, the Financial Intelligence Unit, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. Through capacity building programs and case-based mentoring, OPDAT highlights how money laundering and asset forfeiture can be used as tools to fight corruption. OPDAT also focuses on improving prosecutors’ and police’s abilities to investigate and prosecute cases involving cryptocurrency. Additionally, OPDAT worked with the Indonesian Supreme Court to develop corruption case sentencing guidelines, which were enacted in July 2020.
In the Maldives, OPDAT provides capacity-building and technical assistance to the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Maldives Police Service, and the Prosecutor General’s Office to strengthen their capacity to effectively investigate and prosecute public corruption and money laundering. OPDAT also closely engages with the Government of Maldives to develop and implement processes to identify and preserve criminal assets and develop methods for asset recovery. Recently, OPDAT co-led an asset recovery workshop with the Treasury Department’s Office of Technical Assistance for all government stakeholders to identify gaps in existing legislation and regulations that are an impediment to an effective asset recovery system and to delineate actions needed to improve the system. OPDAT has also facilitated the reconvening of the Financial Crimes Working Group and is developing a course for public corruption investigators.
In Nepal, OPDAT works with relevant Nepalese investigators, prosecutors, and criminal justice actors to improve investigations and prosecutions of complex crimes including corruption and money laundering. OPDAT also works to support legislative reform and implementation of procedural tools for the Rule of Law and good (non-corrupt) governance.
In Sri Lanka, OPDAT works with relevant Sri Lanka authorities to improve core investigative and prosecutorial activities, including digital evidence and trial advocacy skills, applicable to a variety of crimes such as corruption. Considering the current political situation in Sri Lanka, interlocutors have not welcomed programming specifically focused on corruption.
Combatting Corruption in Africa
At regional workshops in Africa, OPDAT presented on prosecutorial ethics for prosecutors and judges from Ghana, Nigeria, and The Gambia. OPDAT has also hosted a series of online workshops for anti-corruption investigation and prosecution systems for participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in February 2022, OPDAT provided in person anti-corruption training to judges, prosecutors, and investigators for the Anti-Corruption Agency. Included in this event were one-on-one sessions focused on international evidence gathering. Since then, OPDAT has used the Global Anti-Corruption Rapid Response Fund to develop relationships and make connections between DRC investigators and counterparts in several countries around the world.
In Kenya, OPDAT provides technical assistance and training to judges, prosecutors, law enforcement officers and legal aid lawyers to improve their ability to prosecute various crimes, including corruption, fraud, and money laundering. For example, in January 2022, OPDAT conducted a program to train 66 new magistrates on topics, including ethics and case management.
Combatting Corruption in the Arabian Gulf
In the Gulf Region, OPDAT collaborates with government entities, including Public Prosecutor Offices, Anti-Corruption Authorities, and the Interior Ministries, to enhance anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regimes that are also dedicated to rooting out corruption and illicit finance.