Efforts to recover stolen assets from the Ukraine need to paired with proactive steps to stop banks enabling state looting, said Global Witness as the international community gathers in London for the Ukraine Forum on Asset Recovery (UFAR).
Led by the UK, US and Ukraine, representatives from national governments and international financial centres will meet in London for two days to discuss tracing and seizing the proceeds of corruption in the Ukraine following the deposition of former president Viktor Yanukovych. While this initiative is welcome, Global Witness is calling on the international community to do much more to tackle corruption at the source by ensuring that banks refuse money thought to have been acquired through corruption.
“The recovery of stolen assets is difficult, time consuming and expensive. It would be much better if we could stop the money going missing in the first place,” said Robert Palmer, leader of the Money Laundering Campaign at Global Witness. “If the money is so obviously corrupt, banks in London, New York and other big financial centres shouldn’t be handling it and governments shouldn’t be letting them do so. "
A 2011 report from the UK financial regulator found that three quarters of banks in the UK were not doing enough to turn away potentially corrupt funds. Global Witness is calling on governments to take a much tougher line on banks that handle stolen loot, including holding senior executives to account for these failings.