The Real Costs of Corruption in the U.S.

The United States operates the largest economy in the world. With a GDP of nearly $21 trillion, the U.S. outpaces the next closest country by nearly 25%.

On numbers alone, you would think the country would be able to operate on all systems go, but one of the biggest reasons behind many of our money problems in the country is public corruption. People looking out for themselves and cutting corners to line their own pockets prevents many others from thriving.

These decisions have a major cost, but the estimates can be shocking.

Monetary costs

In 2018, the United Nations estimated that public corruption costs roughly $2.6 trillion worldwide. That number alone would slot in as the fifth-largest economy in the world, behind only the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany. It’s also roughly 5% of the entire world’s GDP.

Here in the United States, Transparency International reports corruption is the worst it has been in nearly a decade. The group attributes this to poor oversight of the $1 trillion COVID relief package among other issues, and slots the U.S. in as the country with the 25th most corruption in the world.

It’s hard to zero in on country-by-country costs of corruption, but the number in the U.S. is very likely in the billions of dollars.

National security costs

Monetary costs are hard to determine specifically because crooks aren’t documenting and sharing their ledgers on illegal bribes and other forms of corruption. National security risks can be even harder to trace at times. When politicians or officials in the U.S. work with officials from other countries illegally, it exposes our country to threats we would otherwise be safe from.

It’s why we’ve written previously about ways to report public corruption because the costs on a national security front can be catastrophic.

Community threats

Corruption can also pose a threat to our communities. We see reports on corruption in D.C. and closer to home, and this often leads to protests. With so many people fed up with officials taking advantage of their tax dollars and neglecting their needs, protests can often turn violent as people fight for fair treatment.

Our police are protecting and serving our communities, but sometimes bad actors enter the police force and work with criminals or become criminals themselves. This type of corruption poses threats right on our own streets, increasing risk to the very place we live, as well.

A threat directly to you

Nobody is immune to the threats of corruption. We all pay taxes and we’re all members of the community. When officials abuse our tax dollars, it’s money out of our own pockets going to shady and illegal operations. When security is at risk, our own homes, families, and loved ones can be exposed to unnecessary dangers.

This is why we at Stolen Asset Recovery Network want to step up and help put an end to public corruption. If you see corruption or are a victim of corruption, find a member of our alliance of global law firms. We can work for the greater good and overcome wrongdoers.


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STARNet, which is short for Stolen Asset Recovery Network, is a global alliance of independent law firms created to provide financial institutions and governments with multi-disciplinary services across countries and jurisdictions for locating, freezing, and ultimately recovering stolen assets related to cyber heists, fraud or corruption.

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