19 October 2018
Olexander Martynenko

Edward Lucas: Ways to fight corruption in Ukraine

Edward Lucas, a keynote speaker at the Ukrainian Financial Forum 2018, examined ways to end corruption in Ukraine. Properly functioning anticorruption courts and special prosecutors are important to end the currently existing climate of impunity, the public’s support of the crackdown on corruption is a powerful and determining factor in its success. 


According to Lucas, fighting corruption needs to be done on two levels. The first is on the institutional level with special anticorruption courts and special prosecutors, which is obvious. It would go a long way to ending the climate of impunity that now exists. Diverting money, underinvesting, and flat-out stealing should come with serious consequences such as revoking operating licenses and prosecution of management.


“But, as important, and what makes a difference is the social climate around corruption. It’s more than fear of going to jail.  How about if my kids stop speaking to me, my spouse and I aren’t invited to parties when people find out what business I’m in. Instead, they spit and turn away. That’s a really powerful sanction.”


Lucas goes on to say, “The outside world has been complicit by allowing Lazarenko and the others in Ukraine to launder money through Western banks. The Western financial system, Western lawyers and accountants, among others, are all partly guilty for the kind of looting that went on. And it looks like corrupt people in the former Soviet Union feed on the corruption in the West, which, in turn, feeds on corruption in emerging markets.”


 “We need strong pushback against corruption so that in the end, we could be able to tell the people involved in it: “Look guys, you have a big slice from a small corrupt cake. Wouldn’t it be better if you had a small slice of a big non-corrupt, competitive cake?” It can be done, and there are plenty of examples in other countries where people stopped being robber barons and effectively said, “I would rather be a reputable market participant. So, please do not ask too many questions about my past. There are new rules, and I will play by these rules to make the country richer not just me.”