Private funding of Interpol: another slam to credibility

It has recently come to light that Interpol has begun to receive funding from major corporations. Industries from tobacco to pharmaceuticals have made agreements with the international police organisation over the past 5 years, boosting Interpol's budget, but calling into question the nature of these agreements, and indeed, the integrity of Interpol itself; particularly in regards to cases of financial crimes, corruption, intellectual property infringement, and the like.

We have seen a marked increase in the use of Interpol as a mechanism for pursuing private matters between lenders and allegedly defaulting clients, as well as cases involving patent and trademark disputes. When Interpol is receiving corporate funding, and when the nature of the deals between Interpol and its corporate sponsors are not transparent, what is the guarantee that such matters will be handled impartially?

Interpol's deals with big business have inflated its budget by one-third, an amount that constitutes practical dependency on corporate donations; a serious concern for what is supposed to be an independent, unbiased international policing organisation.

It was revealed last year that Interpol reached a €20 million deal with FIFA, just as the international football organisation came under fire for endemic corruption. Interpol did not participate in the investigations, and had to subsequently annul the agreement with FIFA due to concerns about conflict of interest.

Less attention has been paid to Interpol's other deals with corporate powerhouses like Phillip Morris International and Sanofi; but the concern is that their dependence on such donors undermines Interpol's credibility on many levels.

Will Interpol be as diligent in dealing with alleged crimes committed by its corporate sponsors? When law enforcement agencies bypassed Interpol in their investigations into corruption at FIFA, was it because they did not trust Interpol's impartiality? Are corporations purchasing immunity from Interpol? Even if it is an overstatement to say that Interpol's private sector funding scheme amounts to selling police protection at the international level, the mere perception that this may be the case, is deeply damaging to Interpol's reputation, and thus, to its actual effectiveness.

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