If you ask a victim of fraud in Canada what outcome they would like from the justice system, you are likely to get two answers: one, to see the offender punished, often by the imposition of a jail sentence; and two, to receive his or her money back. This may be one reason why the notion of restitution to victims is ingrained in the criminal law of Canada and the criminal statutes of most countries. This is true not only of fraud, but of other economic offences, including those relating to damage to property. Many governments also provide relief or compensation to victims of crime where offenders themselves are unable to provide restitution. So, what about corruption?

While much concern is expressed globally about corruption, those concerns seldom extend to the victims. In practice, restitution is rare, especially in cases of the corruption of foreign public officials. Yet, there are clear victims, and seldom do they reside within the countries that routinely export corruption through its corporate citizens.  An option that has yet to be explored is a self-standing international victim relief fund, to which individuals and states might appeal for compensation.

This paper explores the idea of creating such a fund and examines the challenges in making restitution or providing relief not only where a direct loss has occurred but also in broader terms where the harms of corruption are felt beyond individual offences. Beyond looking at how such a fund might function, the paper considers what effect such a fund might have on the pervasiveness of corruption.

Part of the Chandler Papers. Read more about the Chandler Sessions on Integrity and Corruption.