About TRACE Podcast: Bribe, Swindle or Steal

Podcast: Bribe, Swindle or Steal

In this podcast, TRACE President Alexandra Wrage explores the world of financial crime – corruption, fraud, money laundering and sanctions. Through interviews with investigative reporters, business people and prosecutors, Alexandra examines different angles of financial crime and explores what motivates people to break the law, how wrongdoers cover their tracks and what can be done to put a stop to the looting.

Click here to learn how you can use Bribe, Swindle or Steal as a supplementary anti-bribery compliance training resource. 

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Debating ISO 37001

Judd Hesselroth and Alexandra debate the merits of the ISO anti-bribery standard and the associated accreditation process.

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Previous Episodes

Where GDPR and Due Diligence Collide

Illya Antonenko, privacy counsel with TRACE, discusses the direct conflict between the GDPR and robust anti-bribery due diligence and TRACE’s efforts to press for revisions to laws for a carve-out for due diligence.

Problems with Campaign Finance

Senator Russ Feingold discusses McCain-Feingold, Citizens United and the vast, opaque sums involved in US politics today.

Football Dreams

Sebastian Abbot, author of “The Away Game;  The Epic Search for Soccer’s Next Superstars,” talks about Qatar and the biggest soccer talent search in history, as well as the darker side of recruiting for the sport.

Sanctions Update: Turbulent Times

Amanda DeBusk, sanctions expert with Dechert LLP, provides an update on Iran, China’s ZTE and North Korea.

All About RICO

Jim Trusty, previously responsible for the RICO review unit at the US Department of Justice, talks about the US racketeering law and how it has been used against the Mafia, MS13 and, more recently, FIFA.

Weighing Red Flags

Carolyn Lindsey and Alexandra discuss a series of “red flags” relating to a problematic fictional agent, Tan, and the relevance of each.

Corruption, Rule of Law and Legitimacy in War Zones

Aaron O’Connell, a Marine colonel, author and history professor discusses his research of, and personal experience in, Afghanistan and his excellent book: Our Latest Longest War:   Losing Hearts and Minds In Afghanistan.

FCPA Enforcement at the SEC

Kara Brockmeyer, former Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit, describes the Unit’s role in the joint enforcement of the U.S. anti-bribery law.

Anonymous Shell Companies

Gary Kalman of the FACT Coalition argues for transparency in corporate ownership and an end to the use of anonymous shell companies in this timely discussion about offshore accounts.

The Plight of Pangolins

Prof. Katharine Abernethy discusses the dramatic and illegal overhunting and subsequent smuggling of pangolins, the most trafficked animal in the world, to supply the Asian market with their scales believed—without evidence—to cure cancer. 

Cost Effective Internal Investigations

Jeff Clark of Willkie Farr & Gallagher provides comprehensive guidance for planning and executing internal investigations and leveraging resources.

Kenya and "It's Our Turn to Eat"

Michela Wrong discusses her excellent book about Kenyan whistleblower John Githongo, the corruption he uncovered and what has--and hasn’t--changed.

Corruption in the Caucasus

Alexander Kupatadze discusses corruption and smuggling in his native Georgia and neighboring post-Soviet states.

Insider Trading: The Galleon Hedge Fund Scandal

Anita Raghavan discusses Raj Rajaratnam and her book, “The Billionaire’s Apprentice, The Rise of the Indian-American Elite and Fall of the Galleon Hedge Fund”.

When Reporting is a Crime

Acclaimed investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova describes her efforts to uncover corruption in Azerbaijan and the state-sponsored blackmail, and then imprisonment, she suffered. Khadija has been represented by an international coalition of lawyers: Amal Clooney (Doughty Street Chambers), Alinda Vermeer (Media Legal Defence Initiative), Yalchin Imanov and Fariz Namazov

Click here to view the briefs.

Offsets: What on Earth?

Bill Steinman of Steinman & Rodgers provides a primer on offsets and the compliance challenges they present.

"The Despot's Guide to Wealth Management"

Prof. Jason Sharman at King's College, Cambridge, discusses his book about how kleptocrats operate and advocates for a controversial "bounty hunter" model for asset recovery.

When Companies Negotiate with Terrorists

Investigative journalist Dorothee Myriam Kellou tells the story of the Lafarge plant in Syria that was ultimately taken over by ISIS.

Virtuous Circles of Anticorruption

Michael Johnston talks about the research for his book “Transitions to Good Governance: Creating Virtuous Circles of Anticorruption”.  He provides some cause for optimism as he describes lessons we can learn from modest success stories like Botswana and Georgia.

How Companies Get Caught

Chuck Duross, partner with Morrison Foerster and former head of the DOJ’s FCPA unit, discusses lures, stings, wiretaps and INTERPOL Red Notices.

White House Ethics Czar

Norm Eisen, former White House Ethics Czar and then Ambassador to Prague and current Chairman of CREW, talks about his work at the White House and the importance of setting the right tone.  Norm also previews his new book:  “The Last Palace.”

"Illicit" and the Underside of Globalization

Moisés Naím, author, public intellectual at Carnegie Endowment and former Minister of Trade and Industry for Venezuela discusses his book, Illicit:  How Smugglers, Traffickers, and Copycats are Hijacking the Global Economy.


From Russia with Cash

Roman Borisovich of ClampK discusses going undercover to film his documentary, “From Russia with Cash”, which exposes exploitation of the London real estate market by kleptocrats and money-launderers. He is also the architect of London’s “Kleptocracy Tours”.

Doping at the Olympics

Richard Conway of BBC Sports describes the vast state-sponsored Russian doping scandal and how the credibility of global sports is being undermined.

Hong Kong's ICAC

Commissioner Simon Peh of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption discusses its mandate, tools, successes and future challenges.

Understanding Suspension, Debarment and Blacklisting

Jessica Tillipman provides a comprehensive and fast-paced explanation of how the government and others use suspension, debarment and blacklisting for punishment or deterrence.

Dirty Entanglements: Corruption, Crime and Terrorism

Louise Shelley, founder of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center, discusses her book about the links between the three international scourges.

2017 FCPA Year in Review

Billy Jacobson describes the key FCPA enforcement actions of 2017, what surprised him last year and his assessment of enforcement under President Trump.

US Soccer Federation Election

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated discusses power, governance and the upcoming election at USSF as Sunil Gulati steps down.

The Brooklyn FIFA Trial

International sports expert, Declan Hill, returns to the podcast to discuss the FIFA trial that concluded in late December and the outlook for meaningful reform.

Primer on Money-Laundering

A 22-year veteran of Treasury and consultant to the Dept of Justice, John Madinger sheds light on some of the money-laundering schemes he has uncovered and why the Breaking Bad car wash scheme probably wouldn’t have worked.

Wine Forger Extraordinaire

Peter Hellman, Wine Spectator regular and author of In Vino Duplicitas, tells the almost unbelievable story of wine fraudster, Rudy Kurniawan.

Magnitsky Update: Canada

Bill Browder discusses Canada’s new Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act and which country he hopes will be the 6th to adopt a similar law.

Slave Auctions in Libya in 2017

Nima Elbagir and Raja Razek of CNN go undercover in Libya to expose a hellish, thriving slave trade.

Menendez, McDonnell and Anti-Bribery Efforts in the US

Randall Eliason discusses the recent Menendez trial, the impact of the Supreme Court’s McDonnell decision and the current state of domestic anti-bribery enforcement in the US.

Twenty Years of the OECD's Anti-Corruption Campaign

Nicola Bonucci, Director for Legal Affairs at the OECD, reflects on 20 years of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention.

David Green and the UK Serious Fraud Office

David Green, the Director of the SFO, talks about the SFO’s priorities, changes he has made as Director and what’s next for him.

The Paradise Papers

Will Fitzgibbon, an ICIJ reporter on the Paradise Papers team, describes this latest tranche of documents.  He discusses the corrosive nature of offshore accounts, even in those cases where they are technically legal.

Murder in Malta

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb while reporting on corruption in Malta.  Roberto Montalto, her lawyer, describes her courage, her work and the loss of a Maltese institution.

The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal

Jack Ewing of the New York Times in Frankfurt discusses his excellent book, “Faster, Higher, Farther:  The Volkswagen Scandal,” and the outrageous fraud and cover-up uncovered by a handful of WVU students.

Preparing for Prison

Walt Pavlo describes how his organization helps offenders prepare for their incarceration and discusses challenges—and a few surprises--within the prison system.


MCI's Accounting Fraud

Walt Pavlo discusses the accounting fraud at MCI that led to his two-year prison sentence, his book “Stolen Without a Gun: Confessions from inside history’s biggest accounting fraud,” and his second career with Prisonology.

The Outlaw Ocean

New York Times reporter Ian Urbina discusses his excellent but grim series about crime and impunity on the high seas.


Bradley Hope of the Wall Street Journal describes his team’s in-depth and on-going research into Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal- and where Leonardo DiCaprio fits in.

Human Trafficking

Martina Vandenberg discusses the misery caused by trafficking and slavery, including in our own neighborhoods, and describes the work her organization is doing to support those able to break free.

Imprisoned in China

Peter Humphrey and his wife were well-respected compliance professionals active in China when they were arrested, tried and imprisoned for two years.

Bernie Madoff: "The Wizard of Lies"

Diana Henriques drew on her years of financial journalism and extraordinary access to the title character to write the definitive book about Bernie Madoff.  It was turned into an HBO movie earlier this year starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Diana, playing herself.

Fujimori, Montesinos and TI

Before becoming chairman of Transparency International, José Ugaz was the “ad hoc state attorney” (special prosecutor) who brought down Peruvian President Fujimori and his head of intelligence, Vladimiro Montesinos.

The Compliance Whisperer

Hui Chen describes her role as the DOJ's Compliance Consultant, what companies should focus on and why she resigned.

Spoiling Their Shopping Trips

Rob Leventhal of the US State Department discusses the tools available to the US Government to make the lives of kleptocrats more difficult.

"Why They Do It"

Eugene Soltes describes his fascinating research into what motivates white collar criminals and how distance from their victims makes it easier.

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Peter Elkind tells the story of the Enron financial scandal; it’s a timely refresher on that corporate disaster as the Trump Administration rolls back financial regulations.

After You Pay a Bribe

Listen to the riveting first-hand story of a Unaoil executive who found himself at the center of a bribery scheme.


The Corrupt Underbelly of Sport

Declan Hill discusses the pervasive and sinister nature of match-fixing and how we can prevent sport from being turned into theater.

Understanding Sanctions

Amanda DeBusk walks us through the goal and nature of US sanctions, and the penalties for getting this important issue wrong.

The Congo: A Family-Owned Business

Bloomberg’s Michael Kavanagh describes his research into the extensive holdings of the Kabila family in the DRC.

The Unaoil Story

Nick McKenzie tells the exciting story of his role in the investigation into Unaoil.

Corruption's Toll on Africa

Michelle Gavin, former ambassador to Botswana, discusses corruption on the continent and how the west is perceived.

"Thieves of State"

Sarah Chayes discusses her time in Afghanistan and discusses the link between corruption and national security.

How Criminals Justify Their Conduct

Shaul Shalvi, a professor of behavioral ethics, describes how people convince themselves that their misconduct is OK.

Trump Hotel - Baku

Adam Davidson of the New Yorker joins the podcast to talk about his research into the baffling Trump Hotel deal in Baku.

Madoff and Belfort

Ike Sorkin, lawyer to both Bernie Madoff and Jordan Belfort, talks through their criminal financial schemes and how regulatory safeguards failed. 

The Death of Sergei Magnitsky

Bill Browder of Hermitage Capital describes the brazen fraud and violence of Putin’s Russia.

The FIFA Swamp

Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated discusses how decades of FIFA corruption and self-dealing have undermined the world's favorite sport. 

Siemens' Bribery Scandal

Peter Solmssen, former GC of Siemens, tells their story.  “They didn’t need to pay bribes.   We were perplexed.”

"Fat Leonard"

Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post describes the sleaze and corruption that compromised the top ranks of the Seventh Fleet.

Bribe, Swindle or Steal Promo

Spotlight Series

Spotlight on Argentina

Guillermo Jorge, a partner at Governance Latam in Buenos Aires, discusses the new Argentinian law that creates corporate liability for bribery that came into effect on March 1.

Spotlight on China

Join two legal experts for a conversation about compliance challenges in China.

Spotlight on Germany

Christian Schefold, with TRACE partner firm Dentons in Berlin, discusses anti-bribery enforcement and compliance developments in Germany.

Spotlight on Hong Kong

Wendy Wysong of Clifford Chance describes the aspects of Hong Kong's anti-bribery law and enforcement regime that set it apart from most others.

Spotlight on India

Vasu Muthyala of Kobre & Kim discusses some of the challenges facing companies doing business in India, and some recent improvements there. View the TRACE Bribery Risk Matrix country report for India here.

Spotlight on Israel

Chaim Gelfand of Israeli law firm Shibolet & Co talks us through the corruption scandals involving two Israeli Prime Ministers and discusses the current compliance environment in Israel.

Spotlight on Italy

Andrea Lo Gaglio, a Partner at Studio Legale Biamonti in Rome, describes corruption, compliance and the role of the mafia in Italy.

Spotlight on Lebanon

Colonel Bashar Khatib, head of Lebanon’s financial crimes and money-laundering division, discusses his organization and mandate and some successes and ongoing challenges.

Spotlight on Mexico

Daniel Maldonado discusses Mexico’s ramped-up anti-bribery enforcement efforts, where problems still linger and how the WalMart case is perceived there.

Spotlight on Nigeria

Olukayode Dada of Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie in Lagos discusses the compliance climate and corruption in Nigeria.

Spotlight on South Africa

Our “spotlight” series takes a closer look at one country.  Today, Paul Holden of Corruption Watch talks about Zuma’s corruption scandal, the Gupta family and the nature of commercial bribery in South Africa.

Spotlight on Switzerland

Daniel Bühr, with TRACE’s Swiss partner firm LALIVE, discusses recent cases in Switzerland and the country’s uneasy relationship to transparency and financial crime.

Spotlight on the UK

Michelle de Kluyver of Addleshaw Goddard discusses the UK Bribery Act in a lively, informative interview.