The United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) meeting in Dakar began today and runs through Wednesday, June 23, 2010. The UNCAC, which calls for the prevention and criminalization of corruption, was formed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2005. To date, the convention is comprised of 145 member states and is the sole international judiciary body against corruption. International cooperation and asset recovery are other major principles of the UNCAC.
“The Convention goes beyond previous instruments of this kind, criminalizing not only basic forms of corruption such as bribery and the embezzlement of public funds, but also trading in influence and the concealment and laundering of the proceeds of corruption,” according to the UNCAC website.
Leaders of the member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as Mauritania, Morocco and Rwanda are expected to attend. Other invitees to this conference include: representatives of the commission of ECOWAS, the African Union, and other development organizations such as the United Nations Development Program and the African Development Bank.
Participants will obtain elaborate regional plans of action to better coordinate members’ efforts and strengthen partnerships with international institutions and ideas on how to implement these aims sub-regionally. Member states will also be able to participate in the review process adopted at the Doha conference.
The full (French) text of the press release is provided below:
COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE
Mise en œuvre de la Convention des Nations Unies contre la Corruption et le renforcement des capacités des Institutions nationales de lutte contre la corruption en Afrique de l’Ouest.
CNLCC/UNODC. Dakar, 20 juin 2010. La Présidence de la République du Sénégal et le Bureau pour l’Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre de l’Office des Nations Unies contre la Drogue et le Crime (UNODC) organise du 21 au 23 juin 2010 à Hôtel Méridien un forum régional sur la mise en œuvre de la Convention des Nations Unies Contre la Corruption et le renforcement des capacités des Institutions nationales de lutte contre la corruption en Afrique de l’Ouest.
La corruption est identifiée comme un obstacle majeur à la promotion d’une gouvernance efficace, à la croissance économique et au développement national dans tout pays soit-il industriel ou en cours de développement.
A cet égard, les Etats parties, soucieux de lutter contre ce fléau, ont négocié et adopté la Convention des Nations Unies contre la Corruption, qui est entrée en vigueur en décembre 2005 et compte aujourd’hui 145 Etats parties. La Convention est le seul instrument international juridiquement contraignant contre la corruption et donne les armes efficaces aux Etats afin de prévenir et réprimer les actes de corruption.
Sont attendus à cette rencontre de Dakar, les premiers responsables des entités nationales de lutte contre la corruption des Etats membres de la CEDEAO, ainsi que la Mauritanie, le Maroc et le Rwanda, qui feront le suivi des résolutions adoptées lors de la Conférence des Etats parties à la Convention des Nations Unies contre la Corruption, qui s’est tenue à Doha en novembre 2009, et des recommandations adoptées lors de la réunion de Banjul de mars 2009.
Outre les Etats Membres de la CEDEAO et la Mauritanie, seront également invités à ce forum, les représentants de la Commission de la CEDEAO, de l’Union Africaine et des partenaires au développement, tels le Programme des Nations Unies pour le Développement, l’Union Européenne, la Banque Africaine de Développement, la Commission Economique des Nations Unies pour l’Afrique et la Banque Mondiale, ainsi que les représentants de la société civile.
A l’issue des travaux, les participants auront élaboré un plan d’action régional afin de mieux coordonner les efforts des Etats membres et de renforcer le partenariat avec les institutions internationales et sous régionales pour une mise en œuvre effective des Conventions des Nations Unies et de l’Union Africaine contre la Corruption et du Protocole de la CEDEAO. Les Etats parties à la Convention des Nations Unies seront également en mesure de participer aux travaux du mécanisme d’examen adopté lors de la Conférence de Doha.
Offshore centres to reform tax regimes
Financial Times, June 18, 2010
Turkey, Switzerland sign double taxation agreement
Today’s Zaman (Turkey), June 19, 2010
World Bank Urges Action Against Armenian ‘Shadow Economy’
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 19, 2010
Our view: Cartel laundering: Mexico strikes financial blow
Sun-News Report, June 18, 2010
New law curbs money laundering
Gulf Times, June 19, 2010
South Korean whistleblower Kim Yong-chul breaks silence on Samsung
Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 2010
We won’t revisit $180m Halliburton bribery case — EFCC
Punch (Nigeria), June 21, 2010
Probe into top China official linked to J&J: report
AFP, June 19, 2010
Niger charges ex-president’s son with corruption
AFP, June 19, 2010
AP Exclusive: UN Africa corruption case buried
AP, June 19, 2010
Latest German business scam might involve Egyptians
Al-Masry Al-Youm, June 19, 2010
West Africa ‘under attack’ by gangs
Financial Times, June 17, 2010
After UBS Deal, Does Offshore Banking Have A Future?
Forbes, June 17, 2010
UBS deal generally welcomed
Swissinfo, June 18, 2010
Qatar praised for dirty money curbs
The Peninsula, June 18, 2010
Ghana: M&J Row Not Over; CHRAJ Heads to the Appeal Court
Accra Mail, June 16, 2010
Judge Urges Prosecution to Produce Evidence in FCPA Sting Case
Main Justice, June 18, 2010
Task Force to Take On Afghan Corruption
Wall Street Journal, June 18, 2010
Money laundering and trade mispricing were some of the topics discussed by the panel discussion in a Capitol Hill briefing yesterday on the ninth African Economic Outlook (AEO).
The AEO is produced annually by the OECD Development Center, African Development Bank and United Nations Commission for Africa. Although the report provides a comprehensive analysis of economic, political and social developments, the main topic of discussion surrounded the illicit outflow of money from the continent via money-laundering, transfer pricing and tax evasion.
Global Financial Integrity Director Raymond Baker explained how the flow of illicit money out of Africa into developed countries, such as the United States, is impeding the economic progress of the continent.
Baker said the following:
“I’m all for more foreign aid, more FDI [foreign direct investment], more debt relief, more free trade for Africa, but there’s no question in my mind over the years that I’ve spent involved with the continent that the greatest thing we can do for Africa is to curtail our receipt of the illicit money that pours out of the continent, which damages resource mobilization, capital mobilization and hurts the collection of taxes in the continent. That’s the greatest thing we can do.”
Baker emphasized that there is a “two-way street between Africa and the Western world.” Citing GFI’s report on Africa, “Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Hidden Resource for Development,” Baker said that Africa lost more than $US850 billion in illicit money between 1970 and 2008. And that is a conservative estimate. If the missing data resulting from holes in reports, smuggling and money transferred via trade mispricing is approximated, the estimate jumps to a loss of US$1.8 trillion over the 39 year period.
To put it further into perspective, Africa lost between 90 and 169 billion dollars in illicit money in 2008 alone, Baker added. Additionally, the money is not just leaving Africa – it is generally a permanent loss. Africa is the hardest hit by illicit financial flows, according to Baker.
Yes, illicit money is pouring out of Africa, but where is it going? Baker chastised the Western world for placing the blame elsewhere.
“We in our western countries like to point the finger overseas and suggest that it’s all due to that corruption that takes place in those countries over there…,” he said. “By far the greatest part of this, 60 to 65 percent, of the global total is commercial tax evasion in which multinationals are certainly participants.”
Baker did not simply paint a picture of doom. He made three recommendations to begin the process of stopping illicit money from leaving Africa: curtail money laundering, curtail abusive transfer pricing and require country-by-country reporting.
He acknowledged that the complexity of transfer pricing makes it a difficult problem to solve, and that although the AEO’s recommendations for legislative action fell short, the authors of the report could hardly be blamed. Instead of establishing more rules and regulations, Baker recommended that both parties should sign their name to the fact that the transaction is legitimate. Something as simple as the conscience would help curtail the flow of illicit money.
Either way, the message was that something needs to be done. “This massive transfer of illicit money out of the poorest countries into the richest countries is quite frankly an inexcusable reality here at the dawn of a new millennium,” Baker said.
Baker was joined on the panel by Jean-Philippe Stijns, Economist, OECD Development Center; Mthuli Ncube, Chief Economist, African Development Bank; and Witney Schneidman, Senior Adviser, Leon H. Sullivan Foundation. Congressman Donald M. Payne, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health was the event chairman.
Watch Mr. Baker’s full commentary below:
Still Waiting for Those Names
The New York Times, June 16, 2010
Switzerland agrees to handing thousands of private bank details to US
Telegraph, June 17, 2010
Gibraltar ends tax-free offshore corporate status
Economic Times, June 16, 2010
Four charged in South Florida Ponzi scheme targeting Haitian Americans
Miami Herald, June 16, 2010
Ndola MP Mushili arrested for laundering K6 billion
Zambian Watchdog, June 17, 2010
Nigeria: Crimes Commission Grills Ex-Ministers, Others Over Siemens Bribery Scam
Leadership (Nigeria), June 16, 2010
Daimler Admits Bribing Ghana Military
Public Agenda, June 17, 2010
Everyday corruption costs Greece billions
RFI (France), June 17, 2010
US ratchets up pressure on Robert Mugabe’s mob
The Zimbabwe Mail, June 15, 2010
Special corruption court helping to ease caseload
Jamaica Observer, June 17, 2010
Nigeria: The Rumble in the House
Vanguard (Nigeria), June 17, 2010
We need to rethink the traditional relationship between industrial resource extraction and local development, writes Transparency International’s François Valérian.
Our traditional approach to the link between industrial exploitation of underground wealth and local development is fundamentally flawed. While there is ample recognition that industrial corporations have to help local development where they operate, the rationale behind such efforts is rarely articulated. Implicit rationale is most often to buy some kind of local peace through community investment. More theoretical and acceptable explanations make extensive use of the “sustainability” concept, but this concept is too broad to have a concrete efficacy, since it mainly refers to the duration of the industrial operation and could be used for the sole economic management of a non-renewable resource as well as for any long-lasting environmental impact. Another widely used concept is the one of “stakeholder”, one of the stakeholders of the mining operation being the local population, but even the concept of stakeholder is of poor use if we are not more precise on how we define the stake. Most definitions oppose the stake of a stakeholder to the share of shareholder, and therefore define the stakeholder in a negative manner, as a non-shareholder who has to somehow be taken care of. Generally speaking, all measures that refer to sustainable development or stakeholders’ interests are construed as corrective measures, external to the real transaction which is purely industrial and financial.
To the contrary, the economics of local development have to be fully reintroduced into the economics of industrial mining, so that a unified framework can be developed and used for all negotiation purposes. In most countries, with the notable exception of the US, the underground minerals belong to the state, and we have to start with this two-hundred year old French law concept to understand the issues at stake. Two major issues arise from this legal principle, which are the political compact between the state and the local population, and the economic agreement through which the state allows private interests to make economic use of that wealth.
The relationship between the local population and the underground wealth is problematic. One could argue that there should be no economic or legal relationship between them, since before successful exploration this wealth had often remained unknown to the population. This view is the classical view, which was also the colonial view, and we use here that term without the usual pejorative intent, simply to illustrate that the wealth could be used for the almost exclusive profit of its discoverer after some royalty payments to a central authority.
Social and environmental sciences have clearly established, though, the negative impacts that a mining exploitation could have on the local community. I will not come back to them; we all know that they range from water and soil pollution to HIV contamination through destruction of the traditional communities and families. Those impacts are commonly referred to as externalities, which have to be re-internalized in the economics of mining.
Exploitation of underground wealth goes with the exploitation of another wealth, which is formed by the local conditions of living, those conditions ranging from environment to health through social welfare. A ton of copper is only a ton of copper while it still lies underground. Once above earth, it becomes a ton of copper undergoing several chemical treatments and a share in the local population’s life. Hence a first conclusion, but also a question. Through the contract signed between the state and the mining company, the local population lends this share of its life to the mining company. But the question is how to evaluate this pound of flesh.
Let us stay on our first finding for a moment. We have identified an absent signatory to the mining contract, and we have also extended the company’s balance sheet to a new lender which is the local population, and new corporate assets which are some rights on the local population’s life. A number of conclusions derive from that and form as many elements for a negotiation framework.
First of all, we have a lender who does not sign the contract, which raises the issue of state legitimacy to represent the interests of the lending population. The more legitimate and accountable the state is, the more possible the inclusion of the local population can be, and we can immediately reverse the sentence. Doing mining business in a country, the government of which has poor legitimacy or accountability, is also ruling out from the very beginning any chances for inclusion of our absent lender.
Negotiating with an accountable government however is not enough, since the contract also has to be explicitly a lending contract in a particular form. Evaluation, conditions and interests of the loan have to be negotiated and stated. Evaluation is a difficult topic, since it has to assess numerous and long-lasting impacts. Only a few countries, unfortunately the more developed ones, require a comprehensive and detailed study on the environmental and social impacts of the exploitation prior to the contract grant. Such requirement is however crucial to long-term sustainability of local life, and should become regular practice in every mining country, with multilateral assistance for the study when needed. Local population has to be involved in the study, through appropriate political or civil society representation, and full results of the study have to be published. Any mining exploitation has to bring about empowerment of the local population, and should be used as a political opportunity to enhance representation of, and accountability to, this population.
Once the impact has been evaluated, conditions of the loan, ie mitigation of the impact has to be clearly defined. The mining contract has to make it clear that the mining grant is not a licence to do whatever it takes to bring up as much underground wealth as possible. Environmental protection, adequate closing conditions, security and safety, relationship with artisanal mining, as well as caps on annual production have to be defined, as well as the right balance between local and imported workforce.
Lastly, the interests of the loan have to be negotiated and included in the contract. Usually, payments to the state are of two different kinds. You find one-off payments, often called signing bonuses, which are a massive cash injection into the state’s budget. Benefit to the general population, and to the local population, is close to nil according to general experience. Signing bonuses are similar to sudden ingestion of an enormous amount of food. Very often, they fuel the diseases of the public body and end up wasted in individual offshore accounts. Very different are the long-term, regular contributions, ie royalties, taxes, shares in production, which should be substantial and serve the interests of the local population.
You will find an opposing view to regular contributions being substantial. Some argue that low tax and royalty requirements attract investment and help the country successfully compete with other countries, thus enhancing global revenue. The mistake here is that mining is not a commodity industry, investment choices are made on technical parameters and also on governance considerations, those considerations including transparency and fight against corruption. Tax and royalty payments do not form the key driver for an investment choice, but are of crucial importance to the local population, provided that this population becomes its share of them.
We are now back to the issues that we had mentioned at the beginning of our intervention, namely the compact between state and local population, and the contract between the state and the mining company. As well as the local population has to be explicitly recognized as a lender to the company, the government has to serve the interests of the local population, and has to provide it with the interests of the loan. The contract has to provide for corporate expenses for local development, but those expenses should not be an excuse for the state to stay absent and not spend locally. To the contrary, a mining contract also has to provide for part of the revenue to go back to sound local development.
Are we close to including the local population in the negotiation of all mining contracts? No. Is it a reason to leave the contracts behind the closed doors of negotiating rooms in a remote capital city? No. The local population, and the civil society as a whole, is entitled to know what financial amounts flow from the mining industry to the state. This is the much needed first step, a first step that we in Transparency International strongly encourage through our Promoting Revenue Transparency Project. Only transparent and accountable corporations, only transparent and accountable governments, will be in a position to invite the local population to the negotiation table.
British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced the appointment of Kenneth Clarke as the Cabinet member who will champion Britain’s anti-corruption efforts.
The appointment of such a prominent politician comes at a time when Britain’s international reputation remains badly tarnished by issues including the festering BAE Systems scandal, politically embarrassing connections to the attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea, London’s prominence as a tax haven, and the malignant role of London’s satellites in encouraging and facilitating corrupt practices.
Britain’s report card reveals systemic deficiencies and calls for urgent political action. All too often, however, Britain plays a blocking role in trying to water down international efforts to tackle corrupt practices. This has included past attempts to water down the European Union’s Savings Tax Directive to exclude trusts and other legal entities used extensively for tax evasion, not to mention warning foreign governments against probing too deeply into deals involving British companies.
Global concerns about corruption have moved on considerably since Mr Clarke last held a ministerial portfolio in the mid-1990s. As a starting point in preparing for his new role, he should read this and this.
Illicit money is not just leaving Africa, but is also coming in to the United States, Global Financial Integrity Director Raymond Baker explained at a briefing this morning on the 2010 African Economic Outlook (AEO). Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) unexpectedly listened in during Baker’s comments and recognized that something needs to be done.
“Certainly I’m going to take a really serious look at the dollars that come in to the United States wrongly because I do think we have a responsibility, and we have to take ownership of it,” Congresswoman Jackson Lee said.
She also recognized a need for “transparency in the financial system” as Africa continues to develop. She stressed the importance of ensuring that the money in Africa, be it through aid or other sources, is used effectively for the people.
Congresswoman Jackson Lee sits on the House Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Foreign Affairs committees. She chairs the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection. Also, she is the Senior Whip for the Democratic Caucus and the Whip for the Congressional Black Caucus.
Watch Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s full comments below:
On Monday 14th, the European Council adopted conclusions on tax and development, giving its support to last April’s Commission Communication “Cooperating with Developing Countries on Promoting Good Governance in Tax Matters”. Eurodad welcomes these conclusions, which put capital flight, including tax avoidance and tax evasion high on the EU and Member States’ agenda. The Council acknowledges that tax avoidance and tax evasion are “a major obstacle to domestic resource mobilization” for developing countries and that capital flight “requires efforts from both developed and developing countries”. The Council conclusions include the following:
Support for a Country by Country (CBC) reporting requirement for Multi National Companies (MNCs):
We regret that the Council has not been more assertive and explicit in this point and limits itself to exploring CBC reporting as a standard for MNCs. Yet, it is very positive that the Council calls on EU Member States to “support ongoing consultation by the IASB on a country-by-country reporting requirement in IFRS 6 for the extractive sector” and beyond. The fact that the Council encourages IASB to go beyond the extractive sector is a significant step forwards and will be particularly relevant during the forthcoming IFRS 8 review, to be conducted by the European Commission in 2011.
Promote an international framework for exchanging information on tax matters:
Such a framework would include a multilateral and automatic information exchange instrument and the availability of the beneficial ownership of all legal structures. This is a very welcome step. Nonetheless, while the conclusions consider the three options: automatic information exchange, spontaneous and on request models, we regret that the Council does not differentiate between these models, and importantly, that it does not make explicit how the automatic model is the most effective to combat cross border tax evasion.
Reduce incorrect transfer pricing practices:
While this is a very welcome objective, the proposals to do so are excessively vague and weak. The Council supports research on innovative approaches to tackle this problem, which is welcome, but at the same time it supports the implementation of the OECD guidelines on transfer pricing, which CSOs consider very inadequate to effectively address the problem and excessively complex to be implemented by poor countries.
Address IFI use of tax havens:
The Council states that International Financial Institutions (IFIs) should avoid “that EU funds are being used directly or through Offshore Financial Centers (…) for the purpose of evading tax payment”. This is a very welcome step that should be closely monitored. The Council also calls on the IMF to look, within the Reports on Observance of Standard and Codes, at whether a country is committed to the exchange of tax information and whether it treats “fraud” as a criminal offence that should be treated as money laundering. While this is very welcome, we regret that it only considers the term “fraud” and did not include “evasion”, in accordance with the spirit of the conclusions.
Support of greater participation of developing countries in international fora dealing with tax issues:
This is a positive step, but the conclusions here lack a more detailed explanation on how the EU and its Member States will proceed on this at the international level. Moreover, we deplore that while the Council encourages the Commission and Member States to financially support initiatives such as CIAT and ATAF, it does not at all financially support the UN Tax Committee, as CSOs have long been calling for.
Overall, the Council conclusions are an important step forward in addressing key issues related to tax evasion and development. These recommendations should now be endorsed by EU heads of State in their forthcoming European summit on June 17. But overall, they should be followed by a swift and practical translation into concrete measures. This will be the acid test of the commitment and leadership of the EU and its Member States in the fight against tax evasion, and in its commitment to stronger international cooperation with developing countries on tax matters.
Find here the full Eurodad response to the Council conclusions on tax.
EU Council summit: action now will make or break MDG 8
Eurodad, June 15, 2010
Swiss Lawmakers Hold Up Agreement on UBS Tax Deal (Update1)
Bloomberg, June 16, 2010
Surgeon Avoids Prison for Plotting to Hide HSBC Cash (Update1)
Bloomberg, June 15, 2010
Crocodile Dundee Paul Hogan’s off-shore tax accounts to be published
Telegraph, June 16, 2010
ZRA probe multinational cotton company over $3 m tax evasion
Zambian Watchdog, June 16, 2010
Gold mining in Mali: Who really profits?
Eurodad, June 16, 2010
Corruption Risks Abound For ‘Frontier Market’ Investors
Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2010
Canada seen as free of bribery, corruption
Vancouver Sun, June 16, 2010
MACC Detains Four People For Bribery
Bernama (Malaysia), June 16, 2010
Rwanda: Fight Against Corruption to Bring in Private Sector, NGOs
The New Times (Rwanda), June 16, 2010
Nigeria: NSE Charges Abuja Engineers Against Corruption
The Daily Trust (Nigeria), June 15, 2010
In May 2010, Christian Aid published a report entitled ‘Tax of Life’ highlighting the impact of tax dodging on Irish Aid programme countries. It’s a somewhat obvious point. Why would a country in times of austerity give aid to a country without considering the impact of international policies on the ability of that country to develop.
Tax is something that is growing in importance in the development world. The European Council recently published conclusions which approved a paper emphasising the importance of tax for development and the need to explore transparency standards such as Country-by-Country reporting and Automatic Exchange of Information – recommendations which taskforce members have been pushing for some time.
Back in Dublin, the government’s committee on Foreign Affairs were so struck by Christian Aid’s report that they called in the relevant government departments to give an account of what they were doing about the problem of tax dodging.
This led to a somewhat humorous exchange where Senator David Norris accused the Department of Finance Official of sitting on the fence when it comes to Country-by-Country:
Senator David Norris: Mr. Tobin may have slightly misunderstood the question, although it may well be the case that I am thick. While he gave a useful historical account of the current position and the role Ireland plays in this area, he hedged his bets. I am curious to ascertain whether Ireland is actively in favour of country-by-country reporting and if this support is expressed at international levels.
Mr. Gary Tobin: I can honestly say that it is rare for the Department of Finance to sit on the fence. We tend to take either a black or white position on issues. Irish Aid views country-by-country reporting as a multilateral issue. Ireland can and does contribute to the debate but the issue is essentially being driven at—–
Senator David Norris: Mr. Tobin is sitting on the fence.
Mr. Gary Tobin: No.
Senator David Norris: Of course he is.
Mr. Gary Tobin: If the Senator would let me finish—–
Senator David Norris: I would be very pleased with a “Yes” or “No” reply.
Mr. Gary Tobin: We have absolutely no objection to country-by-country reporting. We are participating in the OECD and EU processes that are trying to drive it forward. Having said that, if country-by-country reporting is agreed and implemented, then we want it to work.
So there we have it – Ireland has “absolutely no objection to country-by-country reporting.“ With a growing number of governments in support and businesses recognising the value of transparency if feels to me like the tide is turning.
Column: Saudis act aggressively to denounce terrorism
Washington Post, June 13, 2010
Swiss close to final approval of UBS-U.S. deal
Reuters, June 15, 2010
Police Confiscated $6.5 Million from Tax Official Gayus
Jakarta Globe, June 15, 2010
Nigeria: Greed, Corruption Our Biggest Problems – Jonathan
Leadership (Nigeria), June 14, 2010
PM appoints Ken Clarke to be “anti-corruption chamption”
The Times (UK), June 15, 2010
Too many businesses neglecting human rights, corruption concerns – UN survey
UN News Centre, June 14, 2010
OECD:Only 13 Nations Have Punished Bribery Of Foreign Officials
Dow Jones, June 15, 2010
Money Laundering Law To Be Strengthened, Says MACC Director
Bernama (Malaysia), June 15, 2010
Mexico To Limit US Dollar Cash Transactions To Combat Crime
Dow Jones, June 15, 2010
Aeropostale Ex-Merchandising Chief Charged With Fraud
Bloomberg, June 14, 2010
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