By Hannah Weitzman
Last month, activist Charmian Gooch won the 2014 TED Prize, giving her organization, Global Witness, $1 million toward her cause: making company ownership more transparent and accountable.
This is a huge win for the fight against global corruption. Secret deals and anonymous companies deprive some of the world’s poorest people of money that could go toward education or health care programs. She does an incredible job connecting the dots on this issue in her recent TED Talk, “My Wish: To Launch A New Era of Openness in Business.”
“So many of the countries rich in natural resources like oil or diamonds or timber are home to some of the poorest and most dispossessed people on the planet. And much of this injustice is made possible by currently accepted business practices. And one of these is anonymous companies,” she says in her talk.
Watch it here:
The worst part? It’s legal. In an era where information is so easily accessible, Gooch argues, company information being this inaccessible is absolutely unacceptable. Protecting tax evaders, corrupt government officials, and criminals has become an accepted business practice. But that must change, and they must be exposed and stopped.
This isn’t a problem found solely in some far-off tropical tax haven. The current system right here in the US allows the true owners of companies to remain hidden from the public, creating opportunities for scandal and abuse right here on American soil.
The good news is that there’s a solution to the problem of anonymous companies. “For us to know who owns and controls companies, so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good,” says Gooch. “Together, let’s ignite world opinion, change the law, and launch a new era of openness in business.”