Blog / 10 Jul 2014

Walking the Corruption Talk

There is common misperception in the western world that corruption is something that happens somewhere else. It’s a dangerous misunderstanding which leaves the public and politicians here thinking they can’t do much, if anything to help fight the problem. Tackling this misperception is a key part of the work of Global Witness.

So I was delighted to be invited to lead a walking tour of the City of London for a cross-party group of British parliamentarians this week, to help discuss this. The tour touched on the role the UK financial sector plays in aiding and abetting corruption, and a range of other criminal activity. In particular how banks do this by taking money looted from the state by corrupt officials in developing countries.

Walking the corruption talk

The key points included:

  • The scale of the problem. In 2011 the financial regulator found that 75% of UK banks were not doing enough to prevent the flow of dirty money.
  • A lack of enforcement of the laws designed to prevent money laundering means that banks have no incentive to change.
  • The solution is for senior executives to be held personally accountable by losing their bonuses or jobs, being barred from practice, or in the worse cases going to jail.
  • Why this ultimately matters: there is a devastating human cost. The theft of vast sums from country’s budgets leaves millions trapped in extreme poverty.