Judge Mark Wolf’s Magnum Opus: The International Anti-Corruption Court
In a lifetime of major accomplishments, US Federal Judge Mark Wolf is on a mission to top them all.
As a U.S. federal prosecutor in the 1980s, Wolf’s Public Corruption Unit won more than 40 consecutive convictions, including for cronies of Boston Mayor Kevin White, for bribery, extortion, fraudulent pensions, and perjury.
As a federal judge in the 1990s, Wolf oversaw mob trials, including the successful racketeering prosecution of notorious New England mob boss Raymond Patriarca Jr. He conducted proceedings that revealed the FBI’s corrupt dealings with informants James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. .
In 2003, Wolf became the first judge in over 50 years to impose a death sentence in Massachusetts for serial killer Gary Lee Sampson. In 2011, he sentenced former Massachusetts House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi to eight years in prison in connection with a corruption scandal.
Wolf is now putting his 40 years of accumulated experience and success into a grand mission to fight large-scale corruption. He is leading a campaign to establish a International Anti-Corruption Court in The Hague, aptly dubbed the “International City of Peace and Justice”.
The Anti-Corruption Court would be a court of last resort, like the International Criminal Court in The Hague. It is needed for exactly the same reasons, wolf writes: for the “prosecution and punishment of corrupt leaders of countries who are unwilling or unable to enforce their own laws against powerful offenders”.
Now a senior judge in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, Wolf knows as well as anyone that passing anti-corruption laws is one thing, but enforcing them is an entirely different challenge.
“Grand corruption does not thrive because of a lack of laws,” he writes. “International treaties require the good faith application of criminal laws. However, these laws have been largely ignored. The international community has focused too much on whether the statutes have been promulgated and insufficiently on their effective implementation.
Why are these well-intentioned laws not sufficiently enforced, and how can crooked politicians and industrialists escape justice?
“Impunity exists because corrupt leaders control every element of the administration of justice: the police, prosecutors and courts,” Wolf writes. “Kleptocrats are able to prevent honest and effective investigation and prosecution of their colleagues, friends, families, and themselves.”
There are countless examples of criminals dodging prosecution. This is accompanied by retaliation against officials who attempt to prosecute them. Wolf cites how Egyptian anti-corruption chief Hisham Geneina was prosecuted in 2018 for “disturbing the peace” and sentenced to five years in prison after exposing rampant corruption costing $76 billion. Turkish prosecutors who prosecuted corruption cases against members of then Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan’s cabinet were prosecuted in 2013 for allegedly attempting a coup.
Ongoing atrocities in Europe add to the urgency. “The terrible events in Ukraine highlight the need for an international anti-corruption tribunal to punish and deter corrupt national leaders who are also among the worst perpetrators of human rights abuses,” Wolf said. WNN.
“More hope than ever”
Wolf has assembled an impressive team to lead and support his efforts. In 2016, he founded the Boston-based NGO International Integrity Initiatives with Richard Goldstone, former Justice of the Supreme Court of South Africa and Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. They are joined by Robert Rotberg, former president of the World Peace Foundation.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has become the first national leader to endorse the anti-corruption tribunal. Last June, more than 100 world leaders, Nobel laureates, high court judges and prominent business people from more than 40 countries signed a declaration in support of the court. These include former presidents or prime ministers of Canada, Peru, Slovenia, Sweden, Timor-Leste and Tunisia.
“The harmful effects of corruption are, in many cases, comparable to the effects of crimes against humanity,” said International Bar Association President Sternford Moyo, one of the signatories.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has made forming a coalition of countries to establish the court one of her priorities, Wolf said. WNNand there are indications that other countries will soon join the effort.
“The most common criticism of the IACC project is that it is a politically impossible ideal,” Wolf said. WNN. “However, the growing momentum of the international campaign for the Court refutes these criticisms. I now have more hope than ever that the Court we urgently need will be created.
Like the International Criminal Court, the Anti-Corruption Court depends on a critical mass of member countries to be effective. Importantly, this would include countries where kleptocrats invest, spend and launder their ill-gotten gains. The illicit funds recovered by the court would be reallocated and repatriated to their country of origin. Portions of judgments in civil cases brought by whistleblowers would be used to fund court operations.