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Corruption, Capture and Fragile Contexts

December 8, 2021



  • For International Anticorruption Day this year the World Bank is drawing attention to the challenges, complexities, and consequences of corruption in fragile settings. The term “fragility” can mean many things, and there is no single type of fragile environment. Similarly, corruption can mean many things, and is present in all countries. The most recent Pandora Papers have drawn attention to the fact that rich countries often contribute to the problems. The complexities of corruption and of fragility are huge and can interact with each other but we hope that by unpacking some of the issues we can find some practical ways forward.

  • Headshot of Indermit Gill

    Indermit Gill

    Vice President, Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions (EFI), World Bank

    Indermit Gill is Vice President for Equitable Growth, Finance and Institutions at the World Bank. Between 2016 and 2021, he was a professor of public policy at Duke University and nonresident senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution. Gill worked at the World Bank from 1993 to 2016, where his assignments included Director of Development Policy in Development Economics, chief economist for Europe and Central Asia, staff director for the 2009 World Development Report on Economic Geography, acting chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific, and Principal Country Economist for Brazil. He has a Ph.D. and A.M. in economics from the University of Chicago, an M.A. from the Delhi School of Economics, and a B.A. in economics from St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi.

    Credit: Grant Ellis/World Bank

    Mari Elka Pangestu

    World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

    Mari Pangestu is the World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships. In this role, which she assumed on March 1, 2020, Ms. Pangestu provides leadership and oversees the research and data group of the World Bank (DEC), the work program of the World Bank’s Global Practice Groups, and the External and Corporate Relations function. Ms. Pangestu joins the Bank with exceptional policy and management expertise, having served as Indonesia’s Minister of Trade from 2004 to 2011 and as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy from 2011 to 2014. She has had vast experience of over 30 years in academia, second track processes, international organizations and government working in areas related to international trade, investment and development in multilateral, regional and national settings. Most recently, Ms. Pangestu was a Senior Fellow at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, as well as Professor of International Economics at the University of Indonesia, adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University and a Board Member of Indonesia Bureau of Economic Research (IBER), as well as Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta. Ms. Pangestu is highly regarded as an international expert on a range of global issues. She served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington D.C and as advisor to the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation of International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi. Her record of board and task force service includes the Leadership Council of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), co-chair of the expert group for the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the panel of the WHO health initiative, the Equal Access Initiative, commissioner for the Low Carbon Development Initiative of Indonesia and executive board member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). She has also served on the board of a number of private sector companies. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in economics from the Australian National University, and her doctorate in economics from the University of California at Davis. She is married and has two children.


    Karen Allen

    Senior Research Advisor, Institute for Security Studies, Johannesburg, and former BBC News Correspondent

    Ms. Karen Allen is Senior Research Advisor at the Institute for Security Studies, Johannesburg, where she leads the Emerging Threats in Africa program. A veteran of BBC News for 25 years, she was a foreign correspondent based in Kenya, South Africa and Afghanistan, reporting for the network’s flagship news programs across TV, radio, and digital platforms and completing assignments in Libya, Iraq, Haiti, and much of Europe. Towards the latter part of her BBC career, Ms. Allen obtained a Master’s in International Relations and Contemporary War at King’s College London, pursuing her interest in international justice issues and the nexus with terrorism. Her current position with ISS includes advising policymakers on the risks associated with cybercrime and the unintended consequences of other emerging technologies. Ms. Allen contributes to a number of international publications and is a frequent moderator at global events, including UNOCHA’s World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2015 and 2016.


    Sarah Chayes

    Author of the Prize-Winning “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security” and “On Corruption in America - And What is at Stake”

    Sarah Chayes's remarkable trajectory has led her from reporting from Paris for National Public Radio and covering the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan to running a soap factory in downtown Kandahar in the midst of a reigniting insurgency. She went on to advise the topmost levels of the U.S. military, serving as special adviser to two commanders of the international forces in Kabul and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. She left the Pentagon for a five-year stint at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where she extracted the broadly relevant core from those experiences. Internationally recognized for her innovative thinking on corruption and its implications, she has uncovered the unrecognized reality that severe and structured corruption can prompt international crises, such as revolutions and other uprisings, violent insurgency, and environmental devastation. Corruption of this sort is the operating system of sophisticated networks, which weave together government officials, business magnates and private charities, and out and out criminals, and represents, in Sarah's view, the primary threat to democracy in our lifetimes. Author of the prize-winning Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, she has just finished On Corruption In America -- And What Is at Stake. She lives in Paris and Paw Paw, West Virginia.


    John Githongo

    CEO, Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi

    John Githongo is the CEO of Inuka, a non-governmental organisation involved in governance issues broadly defined, corruption specifically, with an emphasis on working with and for ordinary Kenyans – youth in particular. John is also a past Chairman of the Africa Institute for Governing with Integrity; Executive Vice Chair of the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA); Chair board member of the Africa Center for Open Governance (AFRICOG); and between 2011 and 2015 was a Commissioner of the Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) of the British government. Previously, he served as Vice President of World Vision, Senior Associate Member, St Antony’s College Oxford; Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President in charge of Governance and Ethics of the Kenya Government; board member Transparency International, Berlin, CEO Transparency International Kenya and a board member of the Kenya Human Rights Commission. In the past he has been a columnist for the EastAfrican, Associate Editor, Executive magazine; and a correspondent for the Economist. He remains a weekly columnist for the Star in Kenya and occasionally for other international press such the Guardian and YaleGlobal. John is also a Senior Advisor to the Office of the President of South Sudan on governance. He holds an honours degree in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Wales and an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University.


    Scott Guggenheim

    Adjunct Professor, Global Human Development (GHD), Georgetown University

    Dr. Scott Guggenheim is an anthropologist with 25 years experience in international development. He is particularly interested in how local knowledge and local voice can be heard in development, and most of his work in development has been about how to reconcile large-scale development with giving poor people more agency in how decisions get made. He’s lived through some tumultuous events, starting with helping Indonesia pick up the pieces after the East Asia crisis and then the Aceh tsunami, to his ongoing work in Afghanistan, where he worked with President Ashraf Ghani and his team on trying to sort through development in a time of conflict. Scott Guggenheim served as Senior Advisor to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, where his work was all about putting development and conflict theory into actual practice. He was part of a small team sitting in the President’s Office and the Ministry of Finance which helped President Ghani rebuild (or, more accurately, just build) core systems of government – planning, budgeting, civil service, rule of law – all amidst a pretty bloody conflict that was not getting any better. It was a close-up view not just of conflict or how a poor country develops, but also of the difficulties that even the most visionary and knowledgeable leader faces trying to navigate donor politics, the aid system’s dysfunctionality, inherited histories, and the turbulent political economy of a force-fed and yet basically popular democracy.