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Leaders' Statement

Simon Taylor

Founding Director

Global Witness

UK, Europe

Bio

Simon Taylor, Founding Director Global Witness. Global Witness carries out hard-hitting investigations to expose environmental and human rights abuses that are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. We campaign to change this. We are independent, not-for-profit, and work with partners around the world in our fight for justice. https://www.globalwitness.org/en/

Statement

Once in a generation opportunity to tackle corruption

Many of the world’s worst human rights abuses are driven by the exploitation of natural resources and corruption in the global political and economic system. Global Witness is campaigning to end this. Through our investigations we consistently come up against the same problems. Whether its timber, diamonds, oil or mineral deals, those with suspect money to hide need a bank that won’t ask awkward questions; a lawyer to help them find loopholes and skirt laws; and a legal smokescreen so they can get it out of the country it came from.

These services are all readily available in the world’s biggest international financial centres, such as Singapore, London or New York and in the global tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions. It’s very easy to set up layers of shell companies and trusts to cover your tracks. Banks too often fail to do the proper checks on suspect clients or funds, and regulators don’t punish them for these failures. Without this kind of complicity from the international system, crime and corruption of this kind would be much harder to get away with. When citizens get so fed up with the state-looting they pour out onto the streets in protest and governments are quick to freeze assets, resulting in an existential crisis that negatively impacts on everybody.

But headlines about expensive private homes, huge bank accounts and glamorous double lives of newly fallen dictators in Western hotspots point to a more fundamental problem. If the corruption is so obvious, what is the money doing there in the first place? We want this to change.

We want a world in which business is done in the open and for the greater good. To achieve this, international systems which make corruption and money laundering possible need to change. We’re calling for international public registries of the real owners of companies, visa bans for corrupt politicians, better regulation of banks and lawyers and strict enforcement of anti-money laundering laws and effective judicial process with the political will to go after all the players in the most appropriate jurisdiction.

The Summit provides world leaders with a once in a generation opportunity to commit and start to take real action to combat corruption.

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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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