A complex web of secrecy is facilitating corruption around the world, jeopardising the fight against extreme poverty. The fact that this kind of secrecy exists is a scandal but we can end it – ONE is calling on decision makers to make public who owns and controls businesses and trusts.
Every year developing countries lose $1,000,000,000,000 – a TRILLION dollars – through a web of secretive and illicit activities. That’s money that could be invested in healthcare or education or vital infrastructure in the poorest countries. Take Nigeria for example – it is estimated that Nigeria has lost some $400 billion since 1960 through corruption in the oil sector. That is enough cash to pay for:
• 29.7 million children to be vaccinated
• millions of bed nets to protect families against malaria
• life-saving antiretroviral drugs for all HIV-positive Nigerians
• 86% more teachers in Nigerian schools
Anonymous shell companies and trusts can be deliberately designed to increase secrecy so that the identities of corrupt individuals and irresponsible business are concealed, preventing citizens, journalists and authorities from being able to identify and respond to illegal tax evasion, money laundering and other corrupt activities. Ultimately, this corruption results in fewer schools, hospitals and jobs in the poorest countries, helping to trap people in poverty.
Citizens everywhere have a right to know who owns and operates companies and trusts. Making this so-called “beneficial ownership information” public would give citizens and journalists the tools to follow the money and root out corruption. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ work on the Panama Papers demonstrated how public access to information can increase our ability to expose and challenge corruption globally.
This change could soon become reality in Europe, but only if you and I raise our voices and persuade policymakers to take action. The EU is currently revising the Anti-Money Laundering Directive, so ONE is working hard to ensure that these new rules will make public the information on beneficial owners. To successfully take down secrecy, we need to be loud! To help us amplify our message, ONE Youth Ambassadors from across Europe will travel to Brussels on 24 January 2017 to convince Members of the European Parliament to give the public access to information they need to root out corruption.
Stay tuned and back our campaign and Youth Ambassadors by tweeting your support for ending the secrecy of companies ad trusts!