Transnational Corruption and the Globalized Individual
by Alexander Cooley, Barnard College and J. C. Sharman, University of Cambridge
We present a new, more transnational, networked perspective on corruption. It is premised on the importance of professional intermediaries who constitute networks facilitating cross-border illicit finance, the blurring of legal and illegal capital flows, and the globalization of the individual via multiple claims of residence and citizenship. This perspective contrasts with notions of corruption as epitomized by direct, unmediated transfers between bribe-givers and bribe-takers, disproportionately a problem of the developing world, and as bounded within national units. We argue that the professionals in major financial centers serve to lower the transaction costs of transnational corruption by senior foreign officials. Wealthy, politically powerful individuals on the margins of the law are increasingly globalized as they secure financial access, physical residence, and citizenship rights in major OECD countries. These trends are evidenced by an analysis of the main components of the relevant transnational networks: banks, shell companies, foreign real estate, and investor citizenship programs, based on extensive interviews with key informants across multiple sites.