“Corruption Main Cause of Poverty,” Says World Bank Official

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Ms. Votava: "Fighting corruption, we need good laws"

A World Bank senior financial specialist believes that many Liberians are concerned about corruption and want to see it is tackled effectively.

Ms. Cari Votava told students of the Bomi Community College (BCC) last Friday in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, that the government should not be left alone to fight corruption.

Speaking on the topic, “Corruption” she said when corruption is high in a nation, the country cannot use its resources and taxes to support its citizens.

“Corruption is very complicated because we see a lot of it in many countries. You may read the newspapers and learn that there are many international organizations that study corruption, why it happens, how it happens, but it keeps raiding the country,” she said.

Ms. Votava noted that some countries’ corruption cases are very low while others are very high. As a result, citizens in countries where it is high will continue to live in abject poverty.

According to her, studies show that there is a correlation between how much corruption takes place in a country and how much poverty exists as well.  She said corruption deprives the citizens of what the state needs to operate more effectively to manage its resources.

“When a nation is more corrupt, many investors don’t want to invest there, because they don’t want to be paying bribes, which can produce problems,” she said.

She therefore called on Liberians to support the government in its fight against corrupt practices in the country.

She noted that investors usually invest in a nation to create jobs for the citizens, especially in the local communities and help the economy to expand because economic development reduces poverty.

In order to fight corruption, she said, “You need good laws; laws that prevent corruption and criminalize corruption. The law has to state that bribery is a criminal offense. One who takes bribe should be prosecuted and the money taken to be given back to the state. The penalty for corrupt officials or individuals needs to be high with longer time in prison.”

She further said that there are laws that prevent corruption in many nations. But there are often defaults in many of them, which makes it difficult for the police and prosecutors to prosecute corrupt officials or individuals.

She said laws on corruption need to give integrity institutions, like the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC), Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Liberia National Police (LNP) an audience to identify corruption when it happens so they can investigate and prosecute.

To find corruption in every nation, she said, “Preventive measures have to be put in place. Many countries in the world don’t have preventive measures in place, especially on the day to day basis.”

Earlier, Dr. Zobong Norman, president of BCC, in his welcome remarks thanked Ms. Norman for providing his students with such an opportunity and hoped that the students will make good use of the material.

Ms. Votava is a recognized global expert on illicit financial flows, corruption prevention, anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AM/CFT), and monitoring and evaluation systems.

She has played an instrumental role in contributing to the improvement of international standards in these areas and has led AML/CFT Evaluations and AML/CFT Risk Assessments in many countries. She currently represents the World Bank in the Inter-Government Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) and in other international bodies.

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