"Corruption is like a ball of snow, once it's set a rolling it must increase." ~ Charles Caleb Colton(1789-1832)
The French title of Eva Joly's Justice Under Siege is "Do we want to live in a world like this?" The tragedy is that we do live in a world like this, a world riddled with corruption in the highest echelons of power even in our democratic part of it.
Eva came to France as an au pair from Norway and married the boss's son. She qualified as a lawyer and was working as an investigating magistrate when the Elf corruption file landed on her desk.
Her story of the investigation that followed is frightening. Efforts were made to stop her work and they originated at the highest levels of the French political elite. Evidence was tampered with and her life was threatened. Her story is one of dogged tenacity through eight years of laborious work.
I first became aware of the story when I heard Eva interviewed on Woman's Hour. She was speaking of the British government's decision to abandon the investigation into the BAe bribery scandal. Her comment was that, despite a vicious campaign by the corrupt managers of Elf and their political cronies, the French legal system was sufficiently independent and robust to face off the attacks and that her investigation was brought to a successful conclusion. The perpetrators who had relied on what they thought was the impunity of their position, were in the end unable frustrate the process of the law. Her freedom to operate with the support of her superiors contrasted with the weakness of the British system where the government continually struggles to push itself above the law and often succeeds.
At the end of her investigations Eva returned to Norway and has represented her country on international bodies set up to fight corruption. She estimates that the scale of these crimes runs into billions of dollars every year.
She dedicates her book to 25 individually-named investigating magistrates and journalists, in all parts of the world, who were killed because of their efforts expose corruption and to bring highly placed-criminals to book.
This story of intrigue should be read by everyone (It is due to be republished in early July). It will change your view of highly placed politicians and businessmen forever.
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