Chairman, Transparency International
Talking to Peter Eigen in the bar of a hotel in Uzbekistan during the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development annual meeting, Euromoney is reminded strongly of the hero of John le Carré's novel The Constant Gardener.
The novel is about a young diplomat in Kenya who turns a blind eye to official corruption in the name of good diplomacy, while his more radical and idealistic wife performs heroic work in the Nairobi slums. Her murder by a multinational pharmaceutical company prompts the diplomat to stop sitting on the fence and start actively campaigning against corruption himself.
Corruption: a banned word Peter Eigen, the German chairman of global NGO Transparency International, started his 10-year fight against corruption in Nairobi, where he worked as head of sub-Saharan Africa for the World Bank. While working at the Bank, he felt keenly the necessity of "having to straddle different points" - trying to help the poor, while also mobilizing the rich, and working with governments that were often, as was the case with that of president Daniel arap Moi in Kenya, riddled with corruption. The Bank's official policy at that time was to keep quiet about corruption. Indeed, says Eigen: "You weren't even allowed to mention the word in reports, even though corruption was destroying everything we did."