Press Release / June 10, 2013

Corruption hunters call on the G8 to tackle shell companies and money laundering

A group of public prosecutors and corruption hunters have written to G8 leaders calling on them to tackle shell companies and money laundering. For more information see Global Witness' brieifing on Anonymous Companies


Dear G8 leaders, 

As a group of individuals who have worked to expose and fight corruption, we have witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of state looting by unscrupulous politicians and officials. It hinders development in some of the poorest countries in the world by depriving governments of revenues desperately needed to combat poverty.

Grand corruption would not be possible without the help of the global financial system – in particular, banks that accept corrupt assets and secrecy rules that allow money launderers to disguise their activity.

We welcome the strong statements from Prime Minister Cameron that at the upcoming summit in Northern Ireland, G8 leaders will discuss how they can tackle this problem.

We believe that two things are necessary.

Firstly, G8 countries must commit to take action to prevent anonymous companies from being used to hide criminal activity. Corrupt politicians, tax evaders, and organised criminals all use complex webs of shell companies to hide and launder stolen money. We believe that part of the solution is for governments to require existing company registers to collect information on the ultimate owners of all companies. To have the most impact, this information should be in the public domain. This would help law enforcement chase down money launderers, but it will also enable citizens, journalists and civil society to hold companies to account for their actions. It is also important that this should be extended to cover G8 members’ offshore territories. 

 Secondly, governments need to send a strong signal to their financial institutions that it is unacceptable to do business with corrupt politicians. Banks that are found to breach anti-money laundering rules should face strong, dissuasive penalties. These should also be applied to senior executives who turn a blind eye to dirty money passing through their banks or those who have neglected their duties to ensure that their organisations have the required systems in place to prevent money laundering.

 Tackling the role that the financial system plays in facilitating corruption will help to ensure that our countries have the resources needed for sustainable, long-term development.

 Yours sincerely,

Jack A. Blum, Esq.

Chair, Tax Justice Network USA, Former Chair UN Experts Group on Asset Recovery

William John Downer

Member, Corruption Hunter Network, South Africa

Morten Eriksen

Member, Corruption Hunter Network, Norway

Gretta Fenner Zinkernagel

Managing Director, International Centre for Asset Recovery, Basel Institute on Governance, Switzerland

Richard Findl

Public Prosecutor, Munchen, Germany

Manuel Garrido

Former Anticorruption Prosecutor, Argentina

Baltasar Garzón

Jurist, Spain

John Githongo

Former head of Kenyan anti-corruption agency and currently director of the Inuka Kenya Trust

Judge Richard Goldstone

Retired Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Former Chief Prosecutor of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

Gavin Hayman 

Director of Campaigns, Global Witness, UK

Samuel De Jaegere

Anti-Corruption Expert, Dakar, Senegal

Eva Joly

Member of the European Parliament for France

Drago Kos

Former Chairman of the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption - GRECO, Slovenia

Huguette Labelle

Chair, Transparency International

Former President of the Canadian International Development Agency

Silvio Antonio Marques

State Prosecutor of São Paulo, Brazil

Richard Messick

Former World Bank Anticorruption Adviser, US  

Juan Carlos Cubillo Miranda

Member, Corruption Hunter Network, Costa Rica

Alexius Ernest Nampota

Founding Partner, Nampota & Company, Malawi

Former head of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Malawi

Mark Pieth

Chairman of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, Switzerland