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Shedding light on Corruption

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At a time when corruption is rife and former governors, notably the United States' Rod Blagojevich, who just began his prison sentence, and Nigeria's James Ibori, who is still awaiting sentence, are being disgraced by their acts of corruption, Derrick McKoy, former contractor general of Jamaica and deputy leader of the University of the West Indies' Faculty of Law, has published a book, the first for the new faculty, aptly titled CORRUPTION.

These fairytale-iconical role models are not alone. They are joined by Brazilian Confederation of Soccer head Ricardo Teixeira; Yang Yimin, a former deputy chief of the Chinese Football Association; and even members of anti-corruption committees, among others. What is evident, then, is that corruption is rampant and transcends time and space, is untethered by geography, and presents challenges for those who seek to thwart it.

Speaking at the recent launch of McKoy's book at the newly constructed Faculty of Law on the University of the West Indies' Mona campus, Professor Trevor Monroe, master of ceremonies at the event, noted that there was "no other issue that has so preoccupied Jamaicans, Caribbean Commonwealth citizens, and indeed the global community over a sustained period of time than the matter of corruption".


Seeking New Values for the Innovative Corporation

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Sir Edmund LawrenceI was invited to deliver the keynote lecture at the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Compliance Conference earlier this month (July 2011) and had the honour to meet the bank's CEO, Sir Edmund Lawrence. I also met several members of his management team, including Donald Thompson, his very able Senior Assistant Managing Director, and Stephen Hector, my fellow alumnus of the University of the West Indies Faculty of Law, and the director that is responsible for the bank's legal affairs. During my visit I was very ably assisted by the Executive Manager of the bank's Compliance department, Mrs Pamela Pogson. This bank is highly regarded in the OECS and having met the executive management team, I can see why. Sir Edmund has brought together an excellent cadre of executive management. The rest of the Caribbean has a lot to learn from this banking group of companies.

Donald ThompsonOn receiving the invitation I had suggested, and I thought it was agreed, that I would say some something on the “responsibility” of the directors and executives. In other words, I assumed that I would be expected to lecture on corporate governance.  Corporate governance is an area I am very interested in. It is also a field of study that we do not have good handle on. I was so focused on my original supposition that it never occurred to me that was not what the organizers had intended. It was only later that it became clear that organizers might have instead intended to invite a discussion on “corporate social responsibility.” There is a fundamental distinction between these two areas. The first is concerned with how directors and executives function within the corporation. The second is concerned with how the corporation functions within the society.  When I realized that I would have to give two lectures (the keynote address and a later public lecture), I decided to focus the later lecture on the corporation in the broader society and confine the earlier one to issues arising from the internal responsibilities of the directors and executives.


Redefining Accountability

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In July, I gave a public lecture in St Kitts under the auspices of the University of the West Indies Open Campus and the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank. I had participated earlier in the annual compliance conference organized by the National banking group, and I have already posted how impressed I am with the National's executive management team. For the public lecture I chose as my topic, "Management and Responsibility: Redefining Accountability for the Contemporary Commonwealth Caribbean Corporation." In the public lecture, I was trying to extend the discussion I had begun the previous week in the compliance seminar.

National Compliance Seminar Attendees

A recurrent theme of many of the discussions I have had with persons, both from and outside of the Federation, attending the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Corporate Compliance Seminar last week is that we are now operating in difficult times; but this is by no means new. We seem to be going through recurring cycles of business crises, one after the other, originating outside our region but whose adverse consequences are acutely felt here. The most recent is the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000s which has had such an enormous impact on credit and we may still be feeling the effect that credit crunch in our part of the world. I am quite sure that our bankers and financial services executives here know this, and are more intimately acquainted with these developments than I am.


The regulatory state: the new serfdom

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Over the last hundred and fifty years, we have more and more deeply entrenched the administrative state. Indeed, todThomas Sowellay almost all of us live in some form of regulatory state. There is hardly any aspect of our lives that does not fall for some form of regulation and, indeed, most of us would agree that some form of regulation of market forces is necessary. Thomas Sowell in Dismantling America: And other controversial essays (2010) made the point, “Regulation is of course not always bad, and it would be hard to find anyone of any party who says that it is.”  He was at that time speaking of the banking/financial services industry, but I cannot contemplate that any rational person would agree that market forces alone should determine whether or not we sell rotten meat, or allow children into mines, or have access to atomic bombs.


BBC: Corruption 'threatens India's economic growth'

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Prime Minister Manmohan SinghThe BBC published a report that widespread corruption in India costs billions of dollars and threatens to derail the country's growth, a survey says. The report by consultancy firm KMPG said that the problem had become so endemic that foreign investors were being deterred from the country. It was compiled by questioning 100 top domestic and foreign businesses. Its release comes as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struggles to cope in the battle against corruption.

Earlier this month the head of the country's anti-corruption watchdog was forced to resign by the Supreme Court on the grounds that he himself faces corruption charges. Over the last six months India has been hit by a series of corruption scandals including a multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal, alleged financial malpractices in connection with the Commonwealth Games and allegations that houses for war widows were diverted to civil servants.

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