This week I welcomed to Sweden a US Government Official who is spearheading one of our most important overseas priorities: fighting corruption and bribery in the four corners of the globe. US Embassies can play a very important role by usefully interpreting for the host government and the host society key US policy goals, and the tactics being taken to implement them, and in so doing build partners. The success of the US Government’s campaign against global corruption and bribery will be most effective when there is a seamless web of bribery fighting that spans the world. It will be less effective if the US is the only country fighting overseas corruption and bribery.
Overseas corruption and bribery harms those who are the least empowered, and it prevents business decisions from being made on purely commercial terms. The Department of Justice enforces America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the law which penalizes and sanctions overseas bribery. Lanny Breuer, the Chief of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice, supervises prosecutors who investigate allegations of overseas bribery. Mr. Breuer has taken a very proactive approach to enforcing the FCPA, and given that both American and overseas companies can fall within the jurisdiction of the law, I invited Mr. Breuer to Sweden to spend two days explaining to both public and private audiences in Sweden his priorities and approaches.
On both days, Mr. Breuer had a very full schedule. On Monday, we hosted a business roundtable so that leading American and Swedish business leaders could listen to and learn from Mr. Breuer.
Mr. Breuer then met with Sweden’s Ambassador for Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) Lisa Svenson, to listen to what Sweden is doing to promote a more ethical corporate culture, and to offer useful advice based on his own experience. (Yes, Sweden has an Ambassador at its Ministry of Foreign Affairs for CSR, and it also has an Ambassador for Anti-Corruption, which gives you a sense of how important these goals are to the Swedish Government.)
We then hosted a lunch roundtable for Mr. Breuer with U.S. Embassy staff at our Embassy Diner, so that our team here can also learn from Mr. Breuer and follow up with key Swedish interlocutors after he departs.
After lunch, Mr. Breuer met for over one hour with the Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, and her leading prosecutorial and investigative section heads. That meeting focused on international anti-corruption, but also narcotics smuggling, organized crime, and violent extremism. This was a key meeting, as both of these individuals are pivotal to effective overseas law enforcement collaboration. At the end of the day, Mr. Breuer gave a major address to the Swedish Bar Association – this was a very high level gathering of former judges (including the former Chief Justice of the Swedish Supreme Court), police officials, and leading Swedish lawyers. It was an impressive gathering.
On Tuesday, Mr. Breuer began the day by giving an interview with the Swedish version of Business Week focusing heavily on the FCPA priorities of the DOJ and how the U.S. can collaborate with Sweden to fight overseas bribery. We then traveled
to the Ministry of Justice for an intensive consultation with Swedish prosecutors and police investigators focusing on organized crime. The inter-agency group that met with Mr. Breuer had prepared carefully a case-study that that described how the Swedish government fights organized crime, and Mr. Breuer was able to offer meaningful feedback and advice.
Lunch hosted by the Swedish Ministry of Justice State Secretary followed, with discussion on how the US and Swedish governments are similar and also differ in how they organize their prosecutorial and police agencies, and deploy resources most effectively to fight crime. A meeting between Mr. Breuer with the Director of the Swedish equivalent of the FBI followed, in which lessons learned about effective tactics were shared. Later in the afternoon we were honored to meet with the Prosecutor General of Sweden, who supervises more than 900 prosecutors nation-wide. The day ended with Mr. Breuer giving a speech on the FCPA to the members of the American Chamber of Commerce here in Sweden. It was a standing room only audience (See Attached Photo), and Mr. Breuer was both nuanced and constructive on explaining the intricacies of compliance with the FCPA.
Why does this matter? Because the US will only be effective in fighting overseas corruption and bribery if we have partners who are both committed and effective in joining us. Sweden is a country that has global reach and credibility, and when their law enforcement joins ours to investigate allegations of corruption and bribery, we will be that much more effective from removing this scourge.
Two very useful days for the US Embassy here in Stockholm. And a great example of efficient and targeted collaboration between the State Department and the Department of Justice on one of the central challenges of our time: Anti-corruption.