UK Government to tackle global financial corruption 

This week the UK Government announces a global call to action for greater transparency on company ownership to tackle global illicit flows of money.

Transparency about who owns, controls, or benefits from companies is a cornerstone of preventing and combatting corruption, organised crime, and tax evasion.

The UK is leading the call to action with contributions of £2 million to trust funds managed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to tackle corruption, money laundering, and illicit finance. The work funded by this contribution will support low-income countries to implement registers of company ownership, building on existing work with countries such as Nigeria and Kenya.

Attending the World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C. this week, Andrew Mitchell, the UK’s Deputy Foreign Secretary and Minister for Development and Africa, will announce the call to action in his capacity as the UK’s Governor to the World Bank.

Every year, Africa loses an estimated almost $90 billion due to the ease with which corrupt individuals can move money transnationally through anonymous shell companies. This drains important financial resources away from low-income countries and weakens their ability to achieve economic stability and financial independence.

Global financial corruption undermines progress towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and tackling climate change, and directly affects the UK’s security and opportunities for trade.

Greater transparency will enable low-income countries to stem the flow of illicit finance, hold the corrupt to account, and enable them to deliver the services and public investment necessary for their long-term prosperity.

Deputy Foreign Secretary and Minister for Development and Africa Andrew Mitchell said:

We must mobilise a global coalition of countries and international organisations to drive greater transparency about who really owns anonymous shell companies.

More and more transparency will mean fewer and fewer places for dirty money to hide, ensuring low-income countries can channel their resources into tackling urgent development issues, such as climate change and boosting economic growth. This will ultimately benefit us all.

The UK’s support announced today forms part of wider work with the World Bank and IMF to strengthen anti-corruption and illicit finance measures in their policy advice, financial instruments, and programmes. It also delivers on the UK’s commitment in the International Development White Paper to support low-income countries in building their long-term resilience to corruption and illicit finance risks.

Through the call to action, the UK aims to work with other countries and international organisations to standardise information on company ownership, making it easier to use, and to open registers to journalists and civil society organisations involved in exposing money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illicit financial flows, and will help catalyse law enforcement investigations and prevent corruption.

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