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Bono urges Europe’s leaders to fight corruption

Bono today called on European countries to take tough action to fight corruption, in a speech at Dublin’s Convention Centre.

Speaking in his role as an activist and co-founder of The ONE Campaign, a non-partisan advocacy organisation of more than 3.5 million members, Bono urged leaders including Chancellor Merkel, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso to commit to laws introducing public disclosure about who owns companies and trusts.

ONE has campaigned for rules requiring oil, gas, mining and logging companies to declare the payments they make to foreign governments. Recognising the importance of the European Union’s introduction of this measure, Bono said:

“You passed a law requiring mining companies to publish what they pay – so that more of the wealth under the ground ends up in the hands of those that live above it.”

Calling for Europe to now take action against secretive, anonymous shell companies and trusts, he continued:

“Right now your Ministers and MEPs are working on another law – one that requires shell companies and trusts to tell us who actually owns them – so corrupt monies can’t be masked.

“There’s a transparency revolution happening, and Europe is at the forefront of it. Call it daylight. Without it, you can’t fight the corruption that keeps the poor poor, and you can’t fight the secrecy that keeps the corrupt rich.”

It is estimated that illicit financial flows from sub-Saharan Africa in 2010 amounted to €38.6 bn – more than the total aid received by the region that same year (€29.8 bn).

Two weeks ago, the European Parliament voted in favour of introducing a public register of who owns companies and trusts. This would give citizens and law enforcement authorities access to information and enable them to follow the money from corrupt and criminal activity.

To become law, the EU’s Council of Ministers need to back this move to full transparency in the revised Anti-Money Laundering Directive.

Notes to editors

  1. ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Strictly nonpartisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.
  2. The full speech is available here.
  3. Bono was speaking at the European People’s Party Congress in Dublin.
  4. More information about ONE’s campaign to tackle phantom firms is available here.