WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, January 21st, 2021, Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Bill Keating (MA-09) reintroduced H.R. 402, the Countering Russian and Other Overseas Kleptocracy (CROOK) Act. The CROOK Act would establish an anti-corruption action fund to support international anti-corruption efforts, especially during historic windows of opportunity for reform in foreign countries. The bill would also streamline the US’s work internationally to strengthen the rule of law. The CROOK Act was introduced in both chambers in the previous Congress.
“To counter the weaponization of corruption, the United States must double down on its work to promote the rule of law abroad and support courageous reformers and civil society activists. However, opportunities for the establishment of the rule of law are rare and success requires that the United States act quickly when reformers come to power and seek to root out corruption,” said Fitzpatrick. “As an FBI Supervisory Agent serving abroad, I know firsthand that the United States must take a whole-of-government approach to ensure that resources are being used effectively and that different US Government agencies are not acting at cross-purposes. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation to bolster our anti-corruption efforts, which should always remain at the forefront of American foreign policy engagement.”
“Russia and other authoritarian states have come to use strategic corruption and crony capitalism as their primary tool of malign influence while bankrupting their own countries,” said Rep. Keating. “Just this week, with the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his team’s release of their investigation detailing the rampant corruption by the Putin regime, it is clear we must take action now to dismantle international corruption schemes and hold perpetrators accountable. The CROOK Act enables us to do just that by providing a blueprint for US foreign policy that puts anti-corruption at its core.”
This legislation reaffirms US policy to support key partners in promoting good governance and combatting corruption. The anti-corruption action fund established in the legislation would assist countries where further US engagement could significantly increase the chances of successfully transitioning to democracy, combating corruption, and establishing the rule of law. The monies for this fund would derive from a $5 million surcharge to individual companies and entities that incur Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) criminal fines and penalties above $50 million.
The legislation would also establish a framework for a whole-of-government approach to U.S. efforts to strengthen the rule of law abroad that would include an interagency task force and the designation of US embassy anti-corruption points of contact to strengthen international collaboration and coordination.