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Transparency International Strips United States Affiliate of Accreditation

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The Berlin-based anti-corruption organization Transparency International has stripped its US affiliate — Transparency International USA — of its accreditation.

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Transparency International USA appealed the decision, but last week the appeal was denied by Berlin.

It is unclear whether Transparency International USA will continue to operate and if so under what name.

Disaccredited affiliates are no longer permitted to use Transparency International’s name or logo.

Claudia Dumas, Transparency International USA’s President and CEO, did not return calls seeking comment.

Transparency International USA joins the likes of Transparency Croatia in having its credentials stripped.

The Washington, D.C. based Transparency International USA identifies itself as “a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening integrity and combating corruption in the United States and internationally.”

But increasingly it has been seen in the United States as a corporate front group, funded by multinational corporations — the same multinationals that corrupt the U.S. political system.

Its million dollar a year budget was sustained by contributions from Bechtel Corporation, Deloitte, Google, Pfizer  ($50,000 or more), Citigroup, ExxonMobil, Fluor, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Marsh & McLennan, PepsiCo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Raytheon, Realogy, Tyco ($25,000–$49,999), and Freeport-McMoRan and Johnson & Johnson (up to $24,999).

It yearly gives its annual corporate leadership award to one of its big corporate funders. Last year the award went to Bechtel.

Its board of directors is dominated by corporate lawyers, many of whom defend companies from charges of foreign bribery.

The board includes Alan Larson of Covington & Burling, Lanny Breuer, a partner at Covington & Burling, Peter Clark, a partner at Cadwalader, Brackett Denniston, senior counsel at Goodwin, Lucinda Low, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, Mark Mendelsohn, a partner at Paul Weiss, Steven Tyrrell a partner at Weil Gotshal, and Michael Bailey general counsel of Bechtel.

In a 2015 interview with Corporate Crime Reporter, Sarah Chayes, author of Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, was critical of Transparency International USA’s failure to tackle corruption in the United States — what she identified as a system of “legalized bribery.”

Chayes says that there are four or five parties in the United States —  Wall Street, the health industry, the energy industry and the military industrial complex — that have wrested the laws to serve themselves.

“What is most dangerous is the way that those groups of people have managed to shape the legal environment in ways that suit them, including campaign finance, which allows essentially for legalized bribery in this country,” Chayes said.

“Transparency International chapters are supposed to focus on the countries in which they are resident,” Chayes said. “Transparency International Columbia works on corruption in Columbia. But Transparency International USA is constantly focused on corruption in Third World countries. It’s ridiculous. You would have thought that Transparency International USA would have been at the forefront of ensuring that the criminal bankers that gave us the financial collapse in 2008 would be criminally prosecuted. And maybe Transparency USA should have investigated the relationship between the Treasury Department and the banking sector. But I didn’t see any of that.”

According to Transparency International’s accreditation policy — “full accredited national chapters pass through a review process every three years, aimed at ensuring continuous compliance with our standards and strengthening the work of the chapters.”

“In instances where a chapter’s performance continually falls short of the standards, the chapter may voluntarily withdraw or face disaccreditation or suspension from the movement.”

Last year, Transparency International stripped its Croatian affiliate because “TI Croatia showed little engagement with other national advocacy organizations, TI Croatia had not raised sufficient financial resources, and the quality and impact-level of TI Croatia activities was not satisfactory.”

Transparency has yet to issue a statement as to why Transparency International USA was stripped of its credentials.

The parent organization itself has come under criticism for accepting millions of dollars from companies that have engaged in bribery.

Siemens, which donated $3 million to Transparency International in 2014, pled guilty in 2008 to bribery charges and paid more than $1.6 billion in penalties. Siemens was implicated in corruption in Greece, Norway, Iraq, Vietnam, Italy, Israel, Argentina, Venezuela, China and Russia.

Transparency International’s policy forbids accepting money from corrupt companies.

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