Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

UN Panel Says Corruption Hits the Poor Hardest

UN Panel Says Corruption Hits the Poor Hardest

Friday, 25 September, 2020 - 08:30
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite | Photo: Reuters

A UN panel says tax abuse, corruption, and money laundering are draining hundreds of billions of dollars from governments that could help the world´s poor.

A report from the high-level panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency, and Integrity published Thursday said governments can´t agree on the problem or the solution. But they're also losing an estimated $500 billion due to corporate tax avoidance from profit-sharing enterprises.

In addition, the panel estimated that $7 trillion in private wealth is hidden in tax haven countries, with 10% of world GDP held offshore, and that money laundering amounts to around $1.6 trillion per year, or 2.7% of global GDP.

"Corruption and tax avoidance are rampant," said former Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, a panel co-chair. "Too many banks are in cahoots and too many governments are stuck in the past. We´re all being robbed, especially the world´s poor."

She said trust in the finance system is essential to tackle global challenges including poverty, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Instead we get dithering and delay bordering on complicity," Grybauskaite said.

The report said criminals exploited the COVID-19 pandemic as governments relaxed controls to speed up health care and social protection.

"Our weakness in tackling corruption and financial crime has been further exposed by ... COVID-19," said former Niger prime minister Ibrahim Mayaki, a panel co-chair. "Resources to stop the spread, keep people alive and put food on tables are instead lost to corruption and abuse.

The panel´s goal is to help achieve U.N. goals for 2030 that include ending extreme poverty, preserving the environment and achieving gender equality.

Editor Picks