Catching the ‘Big Fish’: The (Ab)Use of Corruption‐Related Prosecutions Across Sub‐Saharan Africa

18 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2017

Date Written: October 2017

Abstract

This analysis concerns the use of punitive actions to curb corruption. Propositions from the literature on corruption state that by prosecuting offenders for corruption‐related crimes and thus ending impunity, particularly among high‐level political figures (‘big fish’), a political culture of less corruption will evolve. This, however, hinges on there being no impunity and politicization of prosecutions. This study empirically assesses whether this condition holds in the sub‐Saharan African political context. A unique database on corruption‐related prosecutions at the level of ministers across Africa was compiled and patterns were found that suggest that prosecutions are indeed politicized and serve as a way to eliminate political rivals. These findings are a warning in the face of the international community's overly technical and apolitical approach to anti‐corruption in sub‐Saharan Africa.

Keywords: anti‐corruption, corruption, prosecution, sub‐Saharan Africa

Suggested Citation

Mills, Linnea, Catching the ‘Big Fish’: The (Ab)Use of Corruption‐Related Prosecutions Across Sub‐Saharan Africa (October 2017). Development Policy Review, Vol. 35, pp. O160-O177, 2017, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3049110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dpr.12326

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