President Joe Biden makes remarks on the April job report in the East Room of the White House in Washington, United States, May 7, 2021.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden puts global anti-corruption efforts at the heart of US foreign policy and issues a new policy to federal agencies to prioritize efforts to identify and combat corruption.

The instructions come in the form of a memorandum on the National Security Study released Thursday, Biden’s first presidency. The memo officially establishes the fight against corruption as a central national security concern of the United States.

The memo is important because it publicly tells federal agencies that they need to “improve their anti-corruption game,” said an administrative officer, speaking to reporters about the background to the policy.

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The official said large parts of the policy will focus on financial crime, including steps to modernize existing anti-corruption laws to combat cryptocurrencies and cybercrime.

“We see crypto as a means of illicit funding,” officials said, “but these new moves are by no means limited to new technologies like crypto.”

The official also said the effort would include updates to the Bank Secrecy Act, which is currently the main tool to enforce transparency about how money is moved through financial institutions.

“We will look for ideas on how these systems can be modernized to respond to new technology,” said the official.

The fight against corruption is part of a broader change towards a new “foreign policy for the middle class”. The strategy, developed in part by Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, emphasizes how foreign and domestic politics can be integrated into a new middle ground between traditional conservative and liberal approaches to global affairs.

Middle class foreign policy aims to ensure that globalization, trade, human rights and military power are used for the benefit of working Americans, not just for billionaires and multinational corporations, but not for abstract ideological reasons either.