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Leaders' Statement

Akaash Maharaj

CEO

Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC)

Canada, North America

Bio

Akaash Maharaj is CEO of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC). He directs GOPAC’s work on international prosecution of Crimes Against Humanity, its efforts on institution building in fragile states, and its efforts on reconciliation in post-conflict states. http://gopacnetwork.org/

Statement

The Panama Papers and the mandate of our age

The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) is a worldwide alliance of legislators who have come together to combat corruption, strengthen democracies, and uphold the rule of law.

Our legislators come from different cultures, speak different languages, profess different faiths, pursue different political philosophies, and have been on opposite sides of wars. But we are united by a common conviction: that corruption is now the single greatest threat to the development of societies, to the security of nations, and to the rights of all mankind.

There is a better world within our grasp: a world without hunger, without thirst, without needless disease; and corruption is stealing that world from us.

By its nature, corruption breeds in the dark and withers under the glare of public scrutiny. As a result, we believe that the single most powerful means of combatting corruption is easy to describe, though politically difficult to embrace: universal, publicly-accessible registries of beneficial ownership. Such registries ensure that the true owners of assets are known to public institutions, media, and citizens. They thwart the ability of the corrupt to hide their illicit wealth and the evidence of their crimes behind a veil of corporate anonymity.

GOPAC commends the decision by the British government to create such a national registry. Given the City of London’s central role in global finance, we cannot overstate the importance of this decision, nor do we underestimate the political courage that was required to take it. It will make the world a better place. However, the “Panama Papers” have starkly revealed that Britain’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies have become the venues of choice for the ilk of anonymous corporations that shelter the proceeds of corruption, tax evasion, organised crime and terrorist financing.

GOPAC, therefore, urges the United Kingdom to employ its diplomatic influence where it is sufficient, and its powers to legislate for those jurisdictions where it is necessary, to ensure that its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies establish public_accessible registries of beneficial ownership, without delay.

Corruption now kills more people than war and famine combined. Defeating it is the mandate of our age.

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We are grateful to all the authors and contributing organisations within this Manifesto and to the partner organisations that helped to convene this landmark collection of anti-corruption statements from across a wide range of business and civil society leaders. The partners for the Leaders' Anti-Corruption Manifesto are The B Team, Thomson Reuters, the Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption, the ONE campaign and the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council

This project is supported by a grant from the Omidyar Network.

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