As government representatives from around the world gather in London on May 12 for the Anti-Corruption Summit, global leaders from business and civil society have united to urge these leaders to work together to deliver a step-change in how we tackle corrupt activities.
The Panama Papers are the latest eye-opening example of how corrupt individuals abuse the global financial system. But change is possible. By ending anonymous companies, ensuring open contracting and supporting whistleblowers we can stamp out global corruption. A true partnership and tangible, strong action from business, civil society and most importantly government leaders at the Summit is needed to deliver on this promise.
Recent revelations from the Panama Papers have shown what we already knew: that anonymous shell companies are being used to evade sanctions, and hide corrupt monies. We know that these anonymous shell companies are the get-away car for corruption and crime, that they are used to finance terrorism and that they rob countries of finances needed for their sustainable development.
The problem of anonymous companies is one that has a solution: for governments around the world to all implement beneficial ownership transparency so that no company can be set up without disclosing who owns or controls it.
– Mo Ibrahim, Founder, Celtel
Reaching the SDGs and transitioning our economies requires sustained investment in social services, environmental sustainability and equitable economic development. New and sustainable forms of public financing are needed alongside private investment.
We must make sure that money that could support sustainable development is not lost through corruption or tax evasion, such as that highlighted by the Panama Papers.
– Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever.
Business is inherently about trust – our spending and investment expresses our trust in products, brands, and companies. However, trust is eroded by unethical business practice, by corruption and by secrecy. Globally, we have seen declines in trust of both business and government. A critical task now is for governments and business is to regain that trust.
– Guilherme Leal, Co-Founder, Natura.
Public Procurement is also one of the most significant sites of corruption – enforcement data from the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention shows that 57% of bribes were paid for public contracts. Not only does this rob citizens of their national resources, but it has also led to more disastrous consequences: collapsing schools, fake medicine and medical equipment that killed patients. In my own country, enormous sums have been misappropriated through secret deals and asset flips in the oil sector.
Preventing corruption in public procurement is central to achieving the sustainable development goals, and there is a promising way to do so: open contracting.
– Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Fmr. Minister of Finance, Nigeria.
We should celebrate those that stand up against corruption, including the whistleblowers who risk their livelihoods and, sometimes, their lives, to stop wrongdoing. Whistleblowers help us all make things better – people are the best early detection method we have – and when problems are pointed out early they are more likely to be able to be fixed.
– Bob Collymore, CEO, Safaricom.
Openness has multiple benefits at little cost and is well proven. For citizens, it means better infrastructure and services, and more accountability. For governments, it means better delivery with greater efficiency and cost savings. For business, it creates more competitive markets that are easier to enter – especially for small and medium enterprises that drive so much of the world’s economic engine.
– Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus, Tata Group