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Alexander Lebedev: Need to come together against global corruption
March 04, 2014
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In 2013 the world said goodbye to Nelson Mandela, the man whose name became the symbol of the struggle against the inhuman regime of apartheid. This fight lasted for more than 50 years. It was the international community which made a crucial contribution to the process of uprooting the shameful system. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, the civilised world is again confronted with a serious challenge: global corruption and fraud. Although not new, their growth is truly frightening.

According to the calculations of the international organisation, Tax Justice Network, the overall amount of money stolen and taken out of legal circulation by various crooks, is US$30trn (£17.9bn), or half the world’s annual output. Another anti-corruption group, Global Financial Integrity, reckons that the average outflow of money increases on average at 10 per cent per annum, which is substantially higher than overall global growth. The top countries generating most of the dirty money are: Russia, China, Mexico, Malaysia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria.

However the countries of Western Europe are not immune to this evil. The news stories surrounding current corruption scandals and multi-billion dollar fraud in the major banks, investment funds and multinational corporations stand as clear evidence to that. Bleeding dry the economies of countries and continents, the shady dealers steal the future of nations. They’ve created their own parallel universe, which is guided by its own rules and where no outside laws are applicable.

The entry pass to this separate world of international oligarchy are the billions stolen from the taxpayer by corrupt bureaucrats and fraudsters. At their disposal are the best lawyers, offshore tax havens and nominee directorship services to launder the stolen goods. Unfortunately, many countries which pay lip service to the fight with corruption and fraud at home, themselves act as the promised land for the bearers of dirty capital.

Joint efforts: As with apartheid in South Africa, corruption can only be defeated by the joint efforts of the whole of the international community. The first thing, that urgently needs to be done, is that the practice of the off-shore tax havens, which give asylum to the stolen capital, has to be urgently stopped. Second, the practice of nominee ownership is made illegal. The latter would strike an unexpected and truly almighty blow to the corrupt, who rely on the income from their offshore accounts, and may immediately substantially increase the chances of people to retrieve a large portion of the money stolen from them.

To internationalise the fight with corruption and the international oligarchy, and to make the battle less one-sided, a new multi-national organisation should be created. I appeal to everyone to support the idea of a transparent world, free from corruption and dirty money. Only the collective effort of ordinary people and public figures – opinion-makers, journalists, experts — can compel politicians to support this urgent call.

The Independent

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