Fighting corruption and related crimes

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
© Kacper Pempel
Corruption, money laundering, tax evasion and related crimes are global problems that concern all nations. They destabilize economies, violate human rights, create social tension, and undermine the principle of justice and democracy.

Unfortunately the profile of the issue has risen greatly over the past few decades.

International co-operation is essential in assisting countries to effectively implement best practice to fight corruption, and to identify vulnerabilities to protect the financial system from abuse. A particular focus is to increase transparency and ensure countries create the proper framework to disclose beneficial ownership.

Recognizing the threat to national interests and taking into account the difficulties of identifying corruption and money-laundering in the international financial system Russia is actively involved in the broad international dialogue on anti-corruption matters, and is ready to share its best practice and experience. Our multilateral approach enables us to use the UN, IMF, World Bank, FATF and other relevant organizations in the fight against these common threats.

In Russia, we have developed a corruption prevention system, which is based on our country’s legal culture and takes into account Russia’s historical and socio-economic background. The business community can and must make a contribution to this common effort. Although empowering authorities is critical to pursuing illicit financial activities, we believe it is essential for the financial sector to have in place strong preventive measures to dissuade such conduct from the outset.

One of the major challenges nowadays in this regard are growing activities of offshore companies frequently used to dodge taxes and hide illicit wealth. The recent leakage of the Panama Papers has been a good reminder of that. The prime responsibility for this lies with national governments, many of which should do more to make their finances transparent. Our task should be to persuade the appropriate island countries’ authorities to take adequate measures in strengthening international co-operation and data sharing, etc. But let’s not forget that the mentioned territories are barely the tip of the iceberg.

As James Anderson of PAM Insight rightly mentioned in his letter to the Financial Times on 7 April 2016, Panama, like other offshore territories of its kind, is a tiny patch of land that has had to innovate and adapt to survive in a world dominated by much larger, richer countries. What should be of much greater significance is that larger countries eradicate these offshoring practices in their own territories. Patricia Cohen wrote in the International New York Times of 8 April 2016, that in some places in the US territory “it can be more difficult to get a fishing license than to register an anonymous shell company.”

One is compelled to agree that if the EU, OECD and the international community at large are serious about tackling corruption, international money-laundering and tax evasion, then it is high time major nations start tackling those back home. On 12th May 2016 the UK will hold an Anti-Corruption Summit in London. We hope that this event will cover the broadest possible range of corruption and similar crime-related issues.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.