f_0018902_16163 - C NVERSATION The Worlds Top Cop A Talk...

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C NVERSATION Ronald K. Noble is secretary-general of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organiza- tion, with 188 member countries. Created in 1923, it facilitates cross-border police coopera- tion, and supports all organizations that prevent or combat international crime. It has been espe- cially active in the face of rising threats from ter- rorism, cyber-crime, international drug traffick- ing, and corruption. Nine years ago, Noble was elected the seventh secretary-general—the first American to hold this position. Previously, he served as under secretary for enforcement of the Treasury Department, in charge of the U.S. Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and numerous other agencies. Ear- lier, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general. Noble spoke by telephone from Interpol’s general secretariat head- quarters in Lyons, France with World Policy Journal editor David A. Andelman and Euro- pean reporter Charlotte Pudlowski in Paris. WORLD POLICY JOURNAL : From the uniquely global perspective of Interpol, do you see much change—up or down—in the scope, the reach, or the frequency of corruption? And, is there a chicken and egg syndrome when it comes to the nexus of corruption and crime? RONALD K. NOBLE : I’ve been secretary-general for about nine years and, from the beginning, corruption has always been a problem. There’s certainly a height- ened media focus on the issue, and Interpol is also paying greater attention to the problem than when I first began my term. About the chicken or the egg: from my perspective, I see corruption often linked to otherwise legitimate business activity, not pure criminal conduct. But one begets the other. The more lucrative a contract, the more urgent the need to fill this contract; the more government officials with discre- tionary powers to decide on whether or not this contract should be filled and by whom, the greater the likelihood of corruption. Because there has been a greater movement of products—a greater movement of people —over the years, there have been greater opportunities for corruption. You’re doing business in my country, you want to pass my border, you want to get a license, get a variance, or whatever. ..if I have discretionary power as a government official, it’s an opportunity for me to make money. WPJ : But in the Western world, and in many other developed countries, that would be considered a crime, right? NOBLE : The OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] and others have been trying to get more countries to make it a crime to bribe a The World’s Top Cop A Talk with Ronald K. Noble © 2010 World Policy Institute 51
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foreign official. As nations have signed on and made it illegal to do so, we’re seeing more of these cases being made and offend- ers brought to justice. But to the extent there is an opportunity for a businessman or businesswoman to bribe a government offi-
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f_0018902_16163 - C NVERSATION The Worlds Top Cop A Talk...

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