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Global corruption’s hidden players – & what you can do to find them

Written by Alice McCool on Monday, 24 March 2014

“It’s easy to think that corruption happens somewhere over there, carried out by a bunch of greedy despots. The reality is that the engine of corruption exists far beyond the shores of countries like Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria or Turkmenistan. This engine is driven by our international banking system, by the problem of anonymous shell companies, by the secrecy that we have afforded big oil, gas and mining operations and, most of all, by the failure of our politicians to back up their rhetoric.”Charmian Gooch of Global Witness, TED Prize winner 2014.


 

“It’s easy to think that corruption happens somewhere over there carried out by a bunch of greedy despots. The reality is that the engine of corruption exists far beyond the shores of countries like Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria or Turkmenistan. This engine is driven by our international banking system, by the problem of anonymous shell companies, by the secrecy that we have afforded big oil, gas and mining operations and, most of all, by the failure of our politicians to back up their rhetoric.”Charmian Gooch of Global Witness, TED Prize winner 2014.

Last week, our friends at Global Witness announced that their director Charmian Gooch will use their million-dollar TED award to make it impossible for criminals and corrupt dictators to hide behind anonymous companies. Public registers of beneficial ownership would allow ill-gotten gains to be more easily traced and make it more difficult (and less attractive) for people to benefit from the proceeds of corruption and crime.

Charmian has brought to the fore a critical issue which further illustrates that countries like the UK are complicit in global corruption – a point which has also received significant attention in wake of thesanctions on Ukrainian and Russian officials in the EU.

Crisis or not the UK and its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories continue to be a favoured destination for corrupt money from all over the world. Back in October the Prime Ministerannounced that the UK will implement a public register of the real owners of companies – meaning that it will become much harder to hide illicit funds in our country. London and other financial centres can act as a safe haven for global corruption as corrupt money is too easily laundered via banks, into apparently legitimate property and investments. Having a public register is key here as the more we know about who owns such assets, the harder it becomes to hide the corrupt origins of the money.

On the back of this, what we’d like to see from the UK government now is:

  • Effective implementation of the public register in the UK
  • An introduction of transparency for trusts that helps to fight corruption without compromising privacy
  • That they ensure Britain’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories fully implement laws that are compatible with UK and international best practice on company ownership transparency
  • Leadership in the global arena by encouraging other countries – particularly those home to large financial centres – to introduce public registers of the true owners of companies in their own jurisdictions

We support Charmian and Global Witness’ wish “for us to know who owns and controls companies, so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good. Let’s ignite world opinion, change the law, and together launch a new era of openness in resources-resources-business”.

Here’s what you can do to help:

And email ted@globalwitness.org to:

  • Help create the first-ever prototype of a public registry for collecting and publishing information on who ultimately owns a company by contributing funds and technical expertise
  • Add your resources-resources-businesses name to those calling for an end to anonymous companies
  • Use your creative skills – from film making to app design – to tell the untold story of shell companies and their effect on real people’s lives to the wider public

 

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Read 8340 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:53

Alice McCool

Alice formerly worked for Transparency International UK as our Campaigns Officer. You can tweet her via @McCoolingtons.

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