34 episodes

This podcast series features in-depth interviews with a wide range of corruption experts, on questions such as:
What have we learned from 20+ years of (anti)corruption research?
Why and how does power corrupt?
Which theories help to make sense of corruption?
What can we do to manage corruption?
How to recovery stolen assets?

KickBack - The Global Anticorruption Podcast KickBack

    • Science
    • 5.0, 10 Ratings

This podcast series features in-depth interviews with a wide range of corruption experts, on questions such as:
What have we learned from 20+ years of (anti)corruption research?
Why and how does power corrupt?
Which theories help to make sense of corruption?
What can we do to manage corruption?
How to recovery stolen assets?

    34. Asoka Obeysekere on the anti-corruption work of Transparency International in Sri Lanka

    34. Asoka Obeysekere on the anti-corruption work of Transparency International in Sri Lanka

    This time on Kickback: Asoka Obeysekere (@asokao), Executive Director of Transparency International (TI) Sri Lanka.

    Asoka describes his work prior to joining TI, provides an overview of the work that TI does in Sri Lanka, zeroing in on how TI offers legal advice to citizens via Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres
    (ALAC) (https://www.transparency.org/en/alacs) and mobile legal aid clinics. The work of such decentralized and mobile legal advice allows those who would otherwise not receive legal advice to get access to it. Asoka outlines, that when it comes to corruption, fixing the problem of the client and fixing the system differ.

    The two discuss the system of corruption in Sri Lanka, how corruption has become normalized and whether attitudes about corruption can be changed. In particular, Asoka describes how notions around the right to information needs to move towards entitlement and how their collaboration with the accountability lab and the “naming and faming” approaches as well as Civic education can help to so.

    Asoka and Matthew discuss how registries of Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) in Ukraine inspired TI Sri Lanka to go through state-owned enterprises and search for individuals who are in higher positions to provide an overview of who are PEP. The two discuss how to overcome the challenge of keeping such PEP registries up to date, and how AI could help to provide sustainability in supporting sustainable solutions.

    • 54 min
    33. Irio Musskopf on using Artificial Intelligence to fight corruption

    33. Irio Musskopf on using Artificial Intelligence to fight corruption

    This week we interview Irio Musskopf (@irio), one of the founders of the AI-based anti-corruption project Operacao Serenata do Amor (https://serenata.ai/en/) in Brazil. The interview provides detailed insights into how open government data paired with intelligent algorithms can be used to promote integrity.

    The interview kicks off with a short outline how the panel on AI as an Anti-corruption tool chaired by Nils, Christopher and Steven Gawthorpe (@SteveGawthorpe) at last year’s Interdisciplinary Corruption Research Forum in Kyiv (https://www.icrnetwork.org/what-we-do/conferences/icr-forum-kyiv-2019/) and a recent report by Per Aarvik for U4 (https://www.u4.no/publications/artificial-intelligence-a-promising-anti-corruption-tool-in-development-settings) inspired Kickback to invite Irio for the interview.
    In the interview, Irio outlines in much detail how the project came about, what challenges the team had to overcome and how it has been received by journalists, politicians and the public.

    Irio describes the statistical approach used to detect suspicious spending patterns, referring to normal distribution and standard deviations. In case statistics is not your strong suit, you can check out this short explanation (https://statisticsbyjim.com/basics/normal-distribution/)

    Chris, Nils and Irio also discuss the role that machines and humans play in such new anti-corruption efforts, whether and where humans might be replaced by intelligent algorithms and which tasks require the involvement of human decision making.

    The interview covers the Twitter bot Rosie da Serenata (@RosieDaSerenata) that automatically tweets out suspicious cases.

    For some further reading:
    * Report published at the end of the 3 months financed by the first crowdfunding campaign.

    https://medium.com/serenata/the-last-serenade-65fc1a9a0e2f

    * Measuring the impact of the operation after one year of the first mass report to the Congress

    https://medium.com/serenata/o-impacto-do-controle-social-na-c%C3%A2mara-dos-deputados-c2b2a34db09e

    • 51 min
    32. Robert Manzanares on leading the Obiang investigation, asset recovery & a Michael Jackson glove

    32. Robert Manzanares on leading the Obiang investigation, asset recovery & a Michael Jackson glove

    Best known for being the lead investigator in the Obiang case, we welcome law enforcement professional Robert Manzanares, who is also the co-founder of Gatekeeper Consulting (https://gatekeeperci.com/) .

    Robert outlines how he started off as a probation officer and eventually became the lead investigator of the famous Obiang case. Find out the unexpected role that Michael Jackson memorabilia played in the case. Also, once on the case one article gave Robert extra motivation to successfully close the case (see Foreign policy article).

    The two also discuss why should American law enforcement officers should actually take action in investigating such cases of kleptocracy abroad and how other states reacted to the US efforts to seize kleptocrat’s assets.

    Robert outlines in detail the important roles that facilitators played in the case and how it enrages him that none were indicted.
    The two also discuss the challenging question what should actually happen with the stolen assets?

    References:
    The article that Robert mentioned, that served as special motivation to pursue the case:
    https://foreignpolicy.com/2011/04/07/how-many-investigators-does-it-take-to-catch-a-kleptocrat/

    NYT article outlining the Obiang case:
    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/world/africa/teodoro-nguema-obiang-mangue-guinea-looting-trial.html

    UNODC and World Bank repository on stolen asset recovery
    https://star.worldbank.org/corruption-cases/assetrecovery/obiang?term=obiang

    • 50 min
    31. Sarah Steingruber on need for anticorruption measures in global response to COVID-19 crisis

    31. Sarah Steingruber on need for anticorruption measures in global response to COVID-19 crisis

    This week on the podcast: Sarah Steingrüber (@sarahsteino), Independent Global Health Consultant, and the global health lead for the Curbing Corruption Platform (https://curbingcorruption.com/).

    The interview touches on many topics related to corruption and public health.
    Sarah outlines how the global health crisis of COVID-19 poses two main corruption threats.
    1) Corruption of funds that are devoted to improving the health situation, due to lack of infrastructure to combat corruption. Sarah outlines that according to conservative estimates at least 6% of all health investment is lost to corruption in a given year and how this affects, and at times takes lives.

    2) Opportunistic corruption, occurring in the shadow of the pandemic, as some might take advantage of the unique situation of people’s attention being placed on COVID-19 to engage in corruption.

    The two further discuss how the urgency of emergencies affects the safeguards against corruption. Sarah outlines that in that process it plays an important role to figure out what forms of corruption one might be willing to live with while making sure that other forms are prevented.
    Sarah further discusses the donor activities of organizations like the IMF or the Global Fund and outlines how they are at times attached to anti-corruption goals, such that funding is pulled back if cases of fraud and corruption are detected.

    The interview shifts to discussing what lessons have been learned from the Ebola outbreak (2013-2016) that could be applicable to the COVID-19 crisis. Sarah outlines the risk of corruption within procurement that is especially pertinent in times of health crisis. Moreover, she outlines how misinformation can contribute to corruption, such as fostering absenteeism (#infodemic). She also describes how too bureaucratic and overcomplicated procedures can incentivize workarounds of the rules and how digitization might help to mitigate these risks.

    The interview then shifts to the topic of monetization and privatization of health more generally.
    Here, Sarah describes the influence of undue influence on decision-making processes in the health sector. Approaching the topic from a human rights perspective, assuming that access to health care is a human right, she outlines several concrete roadblocks to it.

    As an example for anticorruption in the health sector, the two discuss approaches to tackle bribery in the Ugandan health sector (see video: https://www.businessinsider.com/ugandas-health-minister-went-undercover-in-a-hospital-2017-9_) and whether this approach should be considered a success (for relevant work by Prof Heather Marquette, on this issue see further below).
    The interview ends on a positive note, by Sarah providing some examples for success stories from Ukraine.

    • 59 min
    30. Samuel Power on (corrupt) party financing and the political economy of Facebook advertising

    30. Samuel Power on (corrupt) party financing and the political economy of Facebook advertising

    The interview starts with Sam outlining how the documentary about Eliot Spitzer, called Client 9, got him interested in corruption and how it inspired him to study an MA in corruption research at the University of Sussex.

    Sam describes the research questions he sought to answer with his dissertation on party financing and corruption. Namely, he unpicks the relationship between money and politics, using interviews to examine whether the amount of state subsidy has an effect on perceptions about corruption and which types of corruption it brings about. Here he builds on Michael Johnston’s work on syndromes of corruption

    Sam describes how his dissertation shaped his perceptions about the amounts of money involved in politics, referring to the famous example of Stuart Wheeler who held the record for the highest donation of 5 million pounds to a political party in the UK.
    One of the main insights from his work comparing party financing in the UK and Denmark is that perceived donor based corruption does not differ between the countries even though the party financing is mostly private in the UK and largely state-funded in Denmark .
    Sam describes how he went about conducting elite interviews and how he managed to get people talking about corruption. The interview tackles the question of what even counts as corruption when it comes to financing political parties: is it access or influence? Sam, Christopher and Nils discuss the complex nature of networks of influence in politics and how perceptions and reality about the effect of money on policy might at times differ starkly. Sam refers to the so-called Thomas theorem - if people define situations as real, they are real in their consequences - and how perceptions about corruption often might follow a similar logic. Zeroing in on perceptions about corruption Sam compares the public’s views on corruption to a thermostat.

    The last part of the interview deals with Sam’s work on Facebook advertising and party financing. It shows how Facebook advertising works and how it essentially differs from classical political campaigning. One main difference is that it allows political parties to use Facebook and similar services to test ads. For more information about how social media is used in political processes Sam recommends “Who targets me?”

    Christopher drawing on work by Helen Margetts which argues that “Social Media May Have Won the 2017 General Election” asks about the corruption risks that emerge with social media advertising by political parties. Sam describes several corruption risks that arise from social media political campaigning, referring to the challenges outlined in a recent report by the Electoral Reform Society

    • 56 min
    29. Mushtaq Khan & Paul Heywood on populism, digital technologies & RCTs (Part II)

    29. Mushtaq Khan & Paul Heywood on populism, digital technologies & RCTs (Part II)

    29. Mushtaq Khan & Paul Heywood on populism, digital technologies & RCTs (Part II)

    Social norms of Corruption
    The interview picks up on a discussion about research on social norms and corruption, mentioning the distinction between descriptive and injunctive norms (for more insights check out our previous episode with Prof Bicchieri https://soundcloud.com/kickback-gap/13-cristina-bicchieri-on-social-norms-of-corruption-antanas-mockus-and-soap-operas).

    In evaluating these and other projects, Paul points out the general challenge to measure success in anti-corruption projects. Many insights can serve as a proof of concept, that then need further support via follow-up research. One promising example is the work by
    Liz David-Barret and Mihály Fazekas on identifying red flag risks in procurement by using big data (see here: https://ace.globalintegrity.org/redflag/) and the work by Jan-Hinrik Meyer-Sahling and Christian Schuster on training civil servants (https://ace.globalintegrity.org/projects/ethics/). Further resources need to be invested to gain better insights and to evaluate the success more broadly.

    Can it be a problem that there is apparently no progress in anti-corruption (at least when looking at the CPI)?

    Paul outlines that major organizations such as the World Bank are aware that the standard toolkit approach of the last 25 years has not worked very well. They start to ask themselves what they can do. There is space for further support. So when it comes to the donor’s perspective, the lack of progress does not lead to apathy but a rethinking of corruption efforts. When it comes to the public perception of apparent lack of progress, Paul outlines that this unfortunate, yet something that we on our own cannot address. At the same time he emphasizes the work with the change agents who can help to bring about real change.
    Mushtaq adds that indeed, not all problems can be immediately addressed. It often requires a long transition for corruption on a broad scale to be reduced. Development will not happen without detailed anti-corruption work across different sectors. At the same time, he argues that there are some forms of corruption that can be addressed pretty quickly. Having more nuanced, sectoral-level indicators, will help to better understand which efforts have impact and are feasible. He thereby proposes a “radicalism of digging into solvable problems” and working hard to solve them.

    The double-edged sword of public perceptions about corruption
    Large scandals have helped to get a better understanding about corruption among key policy makers. Particularly important have been the revelations such as the Panama papers (see more insights Kickback #6: https://soundcloud.com/kickback-gap/6-episode-frederik-obermaier ) as they show that corruption is a multi-faceted concept, not a thing. It is complex, dynamic, and new forms of corruption often emerge, in particular revealing that corruption often occurs in networks that span across several countries. These revelations have raised awareness and moved away from a simple interpretation of corruption. Yet, at the same time, the public eye, such revelations might reinforce a view that corruption is widespread.

    • 58 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
10 Ratings

10 Ratings

JooJam ,

Kowsar Gowhari

This podcast provides a deep dive into the complicated topic of corruption, ways to combat it, assessment of last strategies and lessons learned and explores ways forward. I listened to some of the episodes several times. Lots of eye opening discussions! Thanks to the people who produce it!

Aiyshav ,

One of a kind

This podcast is great on so many fronts, I always enjoy listening to it because it not only helps give an overarching glimpse of the research field, but it also brings together scholars and practitioners from very different walks of both scholarship and practice. It also gives context to how corruption affects the real world, outside of the realm of research. Thanks for a terrific job guys.

Corkie Base ,

Best Anti-Corruption Podcast on the Web

The only anti-corruption podcast for the modern researcher. Amazing!

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