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A new report by ONE.org states that at least a trillion dollars is being drained out of developing countries every year through corrupt activity involving shady deals for natural resources, the use of phantom firms, money laundering and illegal tax evasion. According to the report entitled ‘Trillion Dollar Scandal’ that was launched ahead of the G20 summit scheduled to be held in November, as many as 3.6 million deaths could be prevented each year in poor countries if concrete actions were taken against situations allowing corruption and criminality to thrive.
“In developing countries, corruption is a killer. Up to 3.6 million lives could be saved if we end the web of secrecy helping the criminal and corrupt. When governments are deprived of their own resources to invest in the essentials like nurses and teachers, the human cost is devastating,” stated Dr. David McNair, Transparency & Accountability Policy Director at ONE.
The report states that if specific policies are put in place to increase transparency and combat corruption in four key areas; natural resource deals, the use of phantom firms, tax evasion and money laundering, massive financial losses from developing countries could be significantly reduced.
It states that G20 countries have turned a blind eye to massive financial outflows from developing countries which are channeled through offshore bank accounts and secret companies.
“Introducing smart policies could help end this trillion dollar scandal and reap massive benefits for our people at virtually no cost. The G20 should make those changes now,” says John Githongo, Anti-Corruption Campaigner based in Kenya.
ONE states that if steps were taken to end the trillion dollar scandal, in sub-Saharan Africa alone the recovered money could be used to educate an additional 10 million children per year; pay for an additional half-million primary school teachers which will then provide all out-of-school children in 16 African countries with an education and provide antiretroviral drugs for over 11 million people living with HIV/AIDS. It can also be used to pay for almost 165 million vaccines.
It further states that 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are rich in natural resources, but a lack of transparency means it is difficult for citizens to know if they are getting a fair deal and if their resources are being well managed. In far too many instances, they are not.
The report calls on G20 leaders to take action in the four areas that it says are the sources of the problem. It recommends shining a light on phantom firms by making information available to the public to prevent anonymous shell companies and similar legal structures from being used to launder money and concealing the identity of corrupt and criminal individuals and businesses.
It also states that there needs to be the introduction of a robust payment disclosure laws to increase transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors to prevent natural resources in poor countries from being stolen.
Cracking down on tax evasion by instituting an automatic exchange of tax information is also recommended as well as publishing government data so that citizens can follow the money from resources to results and hold their governments to account for the delivery of essential services.