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We welcome Andrii Borovyk (@Borovyk_UA), Executive Director of Transparency International Ukraine, and Gretta Fenner (@gretweets), the managing director of the Basel Institute for Governance. Andrii and Gretta describe their background and how they ended up in their current positions. How the invasion changed anti-corruption work within Ukraine, how reconstruction efforts have already begun, and which corruption risks need to be taken care of to ensure effective reconstruction efforts, emphasizing the need for powerful anti-corruption institutions, better conditionalities as well as open, accessible, and centralized public information repositories. The interview discusses the approach towards conditionalities taken by the IMF, how they change in times of war, and the importance of the donors' abilities to trace the money spent. Finally, the three discuss the need for an inspector general for Ukraine and whether to create new or strengthen existing anti-corruption institutions. Links during the episode: Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine: More information about the different anti-corruption institutions in Ukraine: Strategic corruption in the context of Ukraine and Europe: The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU): Joint paper by Basel Institute of Governance and TI Ukraine: Prozorro Public Procurement Platform: Open Contracting Partnership: Post-war reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan: &
We welcome Mihaly Fazekas, assistant professor at the Central European University, Department of Public Policy, who works on a range of topics related to corruption. The interview covers how how his own personal experience with bad public infrastructure inspired him to conduct corruption research, why he believes that corruption research would benefit from a better understanding of what are actually ymeasuring when we study corruption and the importance of investigative journalism (for example the invesgtative journalism center direct36; Mihaly then makes a compelling pitch why public procurement offers a relevant and interesting subject for corruption researchers. The enf of the interview deals with the intersection between big data, technology and corruption, such as whether new corruption risks emanate from Artificial Intelligence and how AI conversely might be used to fight corruption. Concrete examples mentioned: the e-procurement portal Dozorro in Ukraine: Mihaly’s pick of the podcast: the classic computer game civilization II: Further reading on AI and anti-corruption: Fazekas, M., & Kocsis, G. (2020). Uncovering high-level corruption: cross-national objective corruption risk indicators using public procurement data. British Journal of Political Science, 50(1), 155-164. Abdou, A., Basdevant, O., David-Barrett, E., & Fazekas, M. (2022). Assessing Vulnerabilities to Corruption in Public Procurement and Their Price Impact. IMF Working Papers, 2022(094). Adam, I., & Fazekas, M. (2021). Are emerging technologies helping win the fight against corruption? A review of the state of evidence. Information Economics and Policy, 57, 100950. Köbis, N., Starke, C., & Rahwan, I. (2022). The promise and perils of using artificial intelligence to fight corruption. Nature Machine Intelligence, 4(5), 418-424.
Michel Sapin ( served as a Minister of Finance in France from 1992 to 1993 and 2014 to 2017 and now works as a Senior Advisor for Franklin Lawyers with a specialization in anti-corruption laws. Valentina Lana is a Lecturer at the Sciences Po law school in Paris. Matthew Stephenson interviews the two to discuss the French anti-corruption law known as the la loi Sapin II. They cover why France’s approach towards anti-corruption changed when Michel worked for the government and the importance of the notion of “public interest” in the process. The interview also touches on the surprises and disappointing aspects of the law and how it differs from US legislation against corruption. The three discuss how the French approach toward anti-corruption can inspire other nations to follow suit. If you want to read more about France’s anti-corruption turn-around law, you can find Valentina’s and Michel’s guest post on the Global Anti-corruption blog:
We are thrilled to welcome Ray Fisman (@RFisman), Professor of Economics at Boston University, long-standing corruption expert and author of Economic Gangsters: Corruption, Violence, and the Poverty of Nations ( (with Ed Miguel) and Corruption: What everybody needs to know ( (with Miriam Golden). Matthew and Ray sat down to discuss the classic question whether corruption always hinders development, which types of corruption are particularly harmful, conversations that inspired Ray’s career and Ray’s more recent work on the hidden influence of political connections. You can find all the referenced papers below: Professor Louis T. Wells ( whose work on Indonesia influenced Ray Samuel Huntington ( who coined the idea that corruption may grease the wheels Moncur Olsen ( who introduced the distinction between some forms of centralized corruption being like a stationary bandit while other less centralized are like roving bandits Andrej Shleifer and Robert Vishny’s famous QJE paper entitled Corruption Benjamin Olken and Patrick Barron’s work in Aceh introducing the idea of a toll booth theory of corruption Shang-Jin Wei’s work on the varying prices of bribes New York Times Article of mine collapse in China: Ray & Marianne Bertrand’s work on hidden influence of political connectedness:
Today, we welcome investigative journalist Frederik Obermaier (@f_obermaier). In the interview, we cover the Suisse Secrets ( Frederik also mentions the China Cables uncovering surveillance and mass internment without charge or trial of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, China ( We also discuss the Swiss Bank Secrecy Law and its infamous article 47 undermining Media Freedom in Switzerland): Pop-culture references in the interview: The Laundromat( Frederik's pick of the podcast: Money Men (Dan McCrum) about the Wirecard Scandal:
We welcome back Gary Kalman, director of Transparency International’s United States Office, for the third time. Find out more about the coalition at (00:40) - Progress the U.S. is making on the fight against global corruption, and the role of U.S. entities in facilitating corruption (05:19) - The White House Anti Corruption strategy document (“United States Strategy on Countering Corruption”: (10:43) - The influence of Transparency International on U.S. decisions and support for anti-corruption missions in other countries (14:14) - The Summit for Democracy (19:28) - Comparison to the 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit (24:00) - Maintaining and expanding bipartisan support for anti corruption and anti money laundering initiatives (31:00) - The ENABLERS Act (41:07) - The Foreign Extortion Prevention Act and The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) ( (47:32) - Global anti-bribery enforcement and the challenges the U.S has with information sharing (53:25) - FCPA violations and prosecutions (55:10) - The most important agenda items for Transparency International’s U.S. office
In this special episode, we welcome Anastasia Kirilenko to the podcast. She is an investigative journalist and the co-author of the documentary "Putin and the Mafia" ( (02:55) - Kirilenko's background (06:59) - Documentary "Putin and the Mafia" (10:55) - Media restrictions in Russia (15:50) - The role of the civil society in Russia (20:32) - The role of oligarchs in Russian politics (28:24) - Informing Russian citizens through short wave radio (31:30) - How could the international anti-corruption community do?
In this special episode, Oksana Huss, who has been working on anticorruption in Ukraine for the last 10 years, talks with Svitlana Musiiaka, who is a lawyer based in Ukraine and Head of Research and Policy at NAKO. Musiiaka was previously Head of Corruption Detection in the Ministry of Health, and worked with the Prosecutors Office in Ukraine. (01:32) - Musiiaka’s career (06:37) - What is NAKO, and how it fits into Ukraine’s defence structure ( (13:27) - Anticorruption developments in Ukraine (20:50) - NAKO and reform to change Soviet style ways (25:00) - Ukraine’s military history (28:24) - A constructive approach leading to successful collaboration (33:52) - The Soviet approach (37:30) - Transparency in the defence sector (45:08) - Reform in Ukraine and how Ukraine has held up its military strength against the Russian army (55:15) - Supporting Ukraine now
We welcome Oksana Nesterenko as part of our series on Ukraine. She is an Associate Professor of Law and the Executive Director of the Anti-corruption Research and Education Centre at National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy. (01:06) - Nesterenko’s interest in anti-corruption and her work as an academic researcher and advocate (02:39) - The war for values (11:00) - The cultural and political threat of Ukraine; joining NATO and the threat to Putin’s regime (15:56) - Putin’s money and protecting his regime (25:00) - Zelenskyy as a politician and whether he held up to his anti-corruption promises (35:10) - What needs to be done by governments around the world to put a stop to dirty money (45:05) - Last words; money and war
As a continuation on our series about Ukraine, we welcome Igor logvinenko, an associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College. (01:14) - Igor’s background and his book, “Global Finance, Local Control: Corruption and Wealth in Contemporary Russia” (06:51) - Russia’s historical corruption and current financial integration into world business. (15:20) - The mark of change in a stabilised regime, British Petroleum existing Russian investments (18:15) - The impact of current sanctions, freezing Russia’s Central Bank, action by private companies: Ikea (25:07) - The use of targeted individual sanctions and asset seizures and their appropriateness as anticorruption tool. The Magnitsky Act ( (33:29) - The American financial system and the openness of western economies. Igor’s work with Casey Michel (listen to episode 66 of Kickback to hear from Casey) (49:40) - Looking ahead: the offshore jurisdiction of the U.S., the fundamental structure o the global financial system, and structural changes driven by local populations
We welcome Inna Melnykovska from the Political Science Department at Central European University. She is an expert on state business relations and crony capitalism in Eastern Europe. (01:50) - The direction of Inna’s research (06:00) - Political pluralism and the competition of big business in Ukrainian politics (08:50) - Putin and Ukraine’s competitive oligarchy (10:14) - The similarities and nuances between Russia and Ukraine (12:15) - President Zelenskyy’s fight against crony capitalists - the good and the bad (17:35) - Zelenskyy’s ties to oligarchs and the problems with complete de-oligarchization (21:00) - Putin’s motivation to invade Ukraine (26:54) - The relationship between Russia’s economic elite and Putin’s inner circle, and efforts of western sanctions (39:08) - Inna’s advice for western policies on sanctions and Russian businesses and elites (43:05) - Long term effects
We are joined by Oksana Huss, postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Bologna, and Joseph Pozsgai-Alvarez, Associate Professor and specialist in anti-corruption studies at Osaka University, where we discuss the unfolding events in Ukraine through the lenses of corruption. We continue to think about the Ukrainian people, their suffering and the tragic loss of life during these recent events. (01:00) - Introduction (03:15) - Huss’ background of anti-corruption in Ukraine. Ukraine’s revolutions, decentralization reform (and challenges), and president Zelensky’s democratic election (11:30) - The cultural and economic threat that the developments in Ukraine posed on Russian elites. National identity, agency, and political influence of Ukrainian and Russian people. The primacy of economics in the values of the West (21:30) - The threat to national liberties. A new wave of authoritarianism exporting corruption to liberal democracies, and how this is broader than strategic corruption (32:05) - Forms of strategic corruption and the financial influence of Russia on Europe (37:20) - Ex-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and strategic corruption (42:59) - Optimism and the resilience of the Ukrainian army. How sanction efforts on Russia can be learnings for Japan in regards to China (53:58) - The effect of sanctions on Russian elites. Nuclear threats on Europe. Corruption as a network beyond national borders (1:01:44) - Separating the Russian elite and the Russian oligarchs. How to hit dirty money that enables the general Russian society to enter into more positive diplomatic ties with the West
00:00: Introduction and the beginnings of Caryn’s interest in corruption in Africa 04:24: Caryn discusses the principle agent problem from her paper “Corruption and collective action” with Heather Marquette ( 12:00: Caryn recognises three lenses of viewing corruption and fits them together: principle agent theory, collective action theory, and the functionality of corruption in solving problems 16:00: How to (not) craft messages against corruption, the effectiveness of awareness efforts, and combating corruption fatigue 21:36: The effects of addressing religious affiliations in anti-corruption messages, versus using community driven signalling or nationalist messages 23:36: Caryn’s study in Lagos: understanding corruption through a simulated bribery game ( 25:48: A positive take on anti-corruption messaging: how using injunctive norms can be beneficial (Paper by Mattias Agerberg 30:02: The long term impact of anti-corruption messaging 34:40: Caryn discusses her study in South Africa researching the reduction of police bribery in the Limpopo province ( 41:43 Reducing bribery amongst Ugandan healthcare workers and the functionality of bribery in this sector ( 46:10: Caryn asks, what is our aim of reducing corruption? 50:00: Caryn’s pick of the podcast: an anti-corruption board game, Afghan street art, Kenyan graffiti artists, and more
We welcome Dr. Torplus ‘Nick’ Yomnak, whose anti-corruption work in Thailand has received international recognition, including the United States State Department’s 2021 Anti-Corruption Champion’s Award. He is the Founder and Chief Advisor of HAND Social Enterprise and Assistant Professor at Chulalongkorn University. 01:33: What led Nick to focus on corruption in research and activism 06:00: How anti-corruption research can be put into practice 10:18: Nick’s research; using open-source data of procurement information to locate signs of corruption 12:40: How the Thai government has reacted to Nick’s research, and the role of investigative journalists in publicizing information 16:25: The challenges of keeping up the pressure on corruption cases; the infamous Klong Dan Water Management corruption case ( 23:38: The biggest corruption issues and challenges facing Thailand; what the 2021 Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) will mean for Thailand ( 29:39: Nick highlights why increased transparency is so important in beginning to fight corruption 35:15: Indonesia’s KPK and bribery investigations ( 38:37: The corruption case of Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister (, and how this event may actually signal progress
00:00: Introduction and what sparked Liz’s interest in corruption 02:20: What is state capture ( 05:16: Liz discusses how state capture has been politically-driven in more recent developments 08:30: Can we compare state capture to an extreme form of lobbyism? Liz goes deeper into the definition of state capture and hones in on the intentionality aspect of state capture 10:58: Exposing machine politics: the Brazilian Car Wash Scandal ( ) as a revealing example on the systematic structure of state capture (Liz’s paper) 14:30: Liz looks into how state capture happens in order to understand how to prevent it 18:41: The alarming frequency of state capture in developed nations, specifically the U.K. 24:30: Our roles as citizens and academics to hold public officials accountable 29:18: Liz elaborates on her work on corruption in public procurement, and discusses how Big Data reveals the prevalence of this corruption (Paper by Liz David-Barrett and Mihály Fazekas 33:18: The displacement effect of imposing anti-corruption restrictions on the public procurement process ( 34:27: The unintended effects of anticorruption measures. (Paper by Ray Fisman and Miriam Goldman 34:50: How anticorruption clubs target systemic corruption (Dive deeper by listening to episode 46 of Kickback with Lola Adekanye) 43:46: Liz gives recommendations to the research community, particularly young researchers in this area 46:24: How Liz collects examples of where music and art are used in anti-corruption campaigns, and Liz’s favourite example (Video of Colombian politicians:
We welcome Casey Michelle, journalist and author of American Kleptocracy: How the US Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History. 00:56: Casey’s background and what let his interest in illicit finance, money laundering and kleptocracy 01:30: Casey discusses living in Kazakhstan as a school teacher and the country’s ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s corrupt government that sparked his interest in the topic ( 04:40: Matthew and Casey focus in on the provocative title of Casey’s book and what it suggests 06:21: The reason why Casey wrote his book 07:40: The three primary dynamics that created American offshore Kleptocracy as a source of income (the role of U.S. states, the treasury’s policy exceptions, and American enablers profiting from the financial flows) 15:36: Why the U.S. is Casey’s focus and how it compares to offshore havens for kleptocratic money 21:54: Taking the FinCEN files ( as an example of the scale of ignored suspicious activity reports 29:27: The role of American lawyers and law firms in illicit wealth 36:35: Casey highlights the recent movements in Congress to prevent enablers 39:30: The role of universities and their acceptance of donations from kleptocratic figures. Casey brings in the National Endowment for Democracy May 2021 report on reputation laundering ( 50:15: The long-term development of kleptocracy and money laundering, and honing in on the Trump organization 56:49: Money laundering as a partisan issue under the Trump organization 1:04:14: Casey thinks ahead about what we ought to strive for in this space
Dan Hough is Professor of Politics (Politics), Head of Department of Politics (Politics) at the University of Sussex, founding director of the Center for the Study of Corruption and a football (soccer) aficionado. Find out how Dan’s 14th birthday played a pivotal role in him getting interested in corruption research. Spoiler alert, it includes Ben Johnson ( In his early work, Dan studied corruption in German politics, including the donations scandal surrounding former German chancellor Helmuth Kohl ( Another case that links sports and corruption that Dan mentions, refers to the Andrew Mangan betting scandal ( Matthew and Dan discuss why corruption researchers need (more) patience, how the success of different anti-corruption strategies depends on the context and the challenges of democratization and anti-corruption in Kenya. The two discuss incremental change in anti-corruption, Dan referring to Willy Brandt’s approach towards the former Soviet Union ( The interview shifts towards discussing corruption in sports, whether we should care about it in the first place, and how big sports events can lead to “sports washing” ( Dan outlines the key difference between those who play sports to make money, versus those who make money to play sports, the importance of playing sports the right way to teach integrity. Matthew and Dan discuss social norms of corruption (lit review: and the importance of how you treat referees (great podcast on that issue: The interview ends with Dan’s views about the responses to the Qatar2024 World cup and the doping allegations against the Russian Olympic athletes. Link to the CIPE award voting:
We welcome one of the most important voices in the academic (anti-)corruption field: Michael Johnston, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Colgate University, who has written numerous books on corruption. ( The interview covers Michael’s journey of becoming a corruption research pioneer, his conceptual framework of syndromes of corruption and how they might inform anti-corruption policies. Matthew and Michael discuss the developments of the anti-corruption “industry” over the past decades and Michael shares his views on the tools most useful to fight corruption: Politics and social networks. The interview ends with Michael candidly sharing which views about corruption he has changed his mind about and some advice for (young) anti-corruption scholars and practitioners. Further links: Michael’s most recent book (with Scott A. Fritzen) “The Conundrum of Corruption” can be found here: Michael refers to research by Lawrence Lessig on institutional corruption, you can find more about it:
We welcome Peter Y. Solmssen who serves as the Chairman of the Non-trial Resolutions Subcommittee of the International Bar Association. The interview covers his unique role in serving as the general counsel after the allegations of foreign bribery against Siemens surfaced. Peter shares his views on the Siemens case in general and weighs in on why a successful and large company like Siemens developed systematic bribery schemes in the first place. Matthew and Peter discuss the benefits and challenges of administering penalties of foreign bribery not only to companies but also to individuals. Peter describes his wishlist of changes to the FCPA and how bribery schemes increasingly span across national borders need to be combatted. For more info on the Siemens scandal: To find out more about Peter and his involvement in negotiating “the first internationally coordinated settlement of multiple foreign bribery prosecutions”, check out his Wikipedia article: For a fascinating read about his family’s roots in Germany check out this Die Zeit article (in German): In March 2017, Peter co-authored the Report “On Combating Corruption and Fostering Integrity “ to the Secretary General of the OECD: Together with Prof. Tina Soreide (, Peter has founded and coordinated “The Recommendation 6 Network” a working group consisting academics, lawyers, corporate officers and NGOs:
We welcome Will Fitzgibbon (@WillFitzgibbon) to talk about the largest collaborative journalistic efforts on the Pandora Papers, revealing “inner workings of a shadow economy that benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of everyone else.” More information on Pandora Papers: Will mentions previous data leaks: For more of our content on data leaks, check out our episodes with Frederik Obermaier on the Panama Papers and the FinCen Files Learn how in his work for ICIJ, Will uses artificial intelligence to sift through the massive databases. Will also describes how the impact of data leaks is measured and how the public response to data leaks can spur policy changes. He mentions the protests in Iceland following the Panama Papers: Picks of the Podcast: Documentary by Kenyian journalists on the revelations within the Pandora Papers about President Kenyatta: Washington Post Podcast on the US as a tax haven: Video by Scilla Alleci (ICIJ) on environmental harms revealed in the Panama Papers
Comments (2)

mohsen fakhary

I think episode 0 is deleted or somehow have a problem. I cannot download it or listen to it while I downloaded episodes 1 and 2 successfully. BTW thank you for good content you provided!

Jul 10th

Tris Hicks

The common way to standardise is incidents per thousand which ‘disadvantages states like Wyoming over California’. Apparently. Otherwise an interesting topic with some insight into the complexity of measuring Criminal Justice

Feb 1st
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