Thursday, 11 February 2010

Corruption and Capitalism From BAE Systems to financial regulation

Corruption and Capitalism
From BAE Systems to financial regulation

Taking Soundings present Sarah Sexton and Nicholas Hildyard from the Cornerhouse
Wednesday 24th of February 2010, 6.15 at the Old Broadcasting House.

In discussions about the ills and problems of capitalism convergence is often found across the political spectrum in criticising and blaming corruption. Corruption is understood to undermine the regulation of markets, from its basic principles such as the rule of law to more sophisticated social and environmental standards implemented in legislation and transnational governance. Tackling corruption is prominently placed on the agendas of governments across the world, while an international anti-bribery convention has been in place for over a decade.

But such emphasis has not prevented the UK government from intervening in the investigations of its own anti corruption body, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), into alleged bribery and corruption by BAE Systems, the largest British (and third largest global) arms manufacturer.

Corruption, moreover, is more than the obvious bribery and fraud. As the purpose of the neo-liberal state has increasingly become one of serving private financial interests rather than public ones, regulation itself can be viewed as a form of corruption. From this perspective, global efforts to regulate finance in the wake of the 2007 credit crunch to prevent future meltdowns may be facilitating profit-making at public expense rather than taming it.

For the past decade, The Corner House, an environmental and social justice research and solidarity group, has been using the political space created by corruption to raise issues about the rule of law and the public interest. It was one of two groups that challenged through the courts the Serious Fraud Office decision to stop its Saudi Arabia BAE investigation. It has analysed official responses to the financial crisis and climate change through the lens of corruption and conflict of interest.

Two members of The Corner House, Sarah Sexton and Nicholas Hildyard, will present some of their recent activities as an introduction to a discussion on the wider implications of corruption.