Corruption kills. I am sure of it. The adversaries of corruption are akin to the efforts of finding a vaccine for all the variants of COVID. Long, laborious and frustrating efforts with the only occasional victory. Corruption is like a disease. It is debilitating developing countries in Africa, South America and the Far East. Afghanistan is a good example of this. The US convinced the Canadian Government to deploy thousands of our troops to Kandahar for over 14 years (starting in 2002). In the end 158 brave Canadian soldiers and seven civilians tragically lost their lives there along with hundreds of British soldiers and thousands of young Americans warriors. The Taliban came back to power nearly a year ago and nowadays we don’t see much news about this brutal regime in the mainstream media anymore. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this past February has taken the spotlight instead.
The prior Afghan governments of Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai reeked of corruption. The Americans knew about. So did the Canadian, British and EU governments. But no one did anything about. Mr. Karzai and Mr. Ghani’s cronyism and culture of bribery and kickbacks on large scale US military contracts was known to all. It reminds me of what is happening now in Sri Lanka under President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his cohorts. Unashamed corruption and a brutal military that has ruthlessly suppressed and murdered protesters and engaged in State sponsored terrorism against the Tamil minority. So yes. Corruption just doesn’t kill people. It kills the democratic process of building a fair and just civic society.
Three colleagues and I were recently denied visas as journalists to enter Sri Lanka. Our intention was to expose how the Sri Lankan military seized hotels and resorts previously owned by Tamil families. In 2015 the BBC wrote an excellent article highlighting this crime (bbc.com/news/world-asia-33937051 ). Despots have done this ever since the beginning of time. Having militaries of evil regimes take over the economies of territories they operate in. The same is true in Iran where the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp) controls at some estimates over 45% of that country’s economy.
The OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) is a great resource to get up to date information on what’s going in the current affairs of global corruption (occrp.org ). Today I was reading a highly detailed expose that the OCCRP wrote on the Belgian prince and disgraced banker Henri de Croÿ, who laundered hundreds of millions of USD for his clients in Europe, some of whom are wanted international criminals. Mr. de Croÿ, is a wanted a fugitive in his native Belgium but he now lives a life of luxury in Columbia without a care in the world. So, corruption is not just relegated to the mullahs in Iran, or the despots of Asia. You cannot hide from being corrupt by putting on an expensive suit or tie.
The UAE is another example of an adult playground where the fabulously rich indulge themselves in daily pleasures and Russian Oligarchs on the run live luxurious lives with impunity. In March this year the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) based in Paris put the UAE on a ‘grey list’ which means that the Emirati kingdom will now be subject to more scrutiny. But in the meantime, several international business tycoons from Pakistan, Afghanistan, South American and the Far East who have arrest warrants and/or financial judgments against them for fraud are living freely in Dubai. I am investigating two such cases now and will be publishing an expose of my findings soon. Being an honest journalist, I have reached out to several of these people for comment and they all have one thing in common even though they are from different countries and cultures. All of them have refused to be interviewed by me. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
In Canada freedom of the press is a fundamental human right. Sadly, this not the case in the areas of the world that I have mentioned in this article. Last month I received threatening emails from some very bad people who want to hurt me and my family for exposing their corruption. In response to my corrupt adversaries, I defiantly conclude this article by quoting the utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill, who delivered an 1867 inaugural address at the famous University of St. Andrews in Scotland where he stated “Let not anyone pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part and forms no opinion. Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. He is not a good man who, without a protest, allows wrong to be committed in his name, and with the means which he helps to supply, because he will not trouble himself to use his mind on the subject.”