Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Article: Another Corruption Summit In London; How Many Is Enough?

Cameron (l) with Buhari

By Emeka Chiakwelu

Another corruption summit will again take place in London. This time around the chief organizer and town crier is David Cameron’s Great Britain. The last one about two years ago was initiated by G8 and we are still waiting for solutions and results.

"Police Minister, Judith Collins will represent the Prime Minister at the London Anti-Corruption Summit being hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron on 12 May 2016. The Summit will promote the importance of exposing corruption, punishing those responsible and supporting those who have suffered, and driving out the culture of corruption, where it exists. Prime Minister Cameron is also inviting the leaders of the world’s major international institutions that play a key role in anti-corruption efforts around the globe.”
Not to be called Afro-pessimist but how meetings are enough? Experts and organizers of all these summits know what to do to eradicate, if not minimize corruption but continue to play politics with it.   Evidently, what they lack is the willpower and chutzpah to do the right thing.

Corruption is decelerating and impending progress in Africa. In "Panama Papers" report many individuals and entities were embroiled in tax evasions and denied countries from getting funds that can be utilized to develop infrastructures. Where are United Nations, European Union and African Union on doing credible and verifiable investigations on Panama papers?
As noted by Alex de Waal, “Africa loses at least $50 billion a year — and probably much, much more than that — perfectly lawfully. About 60% of this loss is from aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations, which organise their accounts so that they make their profits in tax havens, where they pay little or no tax. Much of the remainder is from organised crime with a smaller amount from corruption. This was the headline finding of the High LevelPanel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, a year ago.”
And he further stressed that the “amount is the same or smaller than international development assistance ($52 billion per year) or remittances ($62 billion). If we take the accumulated stock of these illicit financial flows since 1970 and factor in the returns on this capital, Africa has provided the rest of the world with $1.7 trillion, at a conservative estimate. Africa is a capital exporter.”
The problem of corruption especially in Africa and indeed in the developing countries is an old and tiring story not because it has lost its importance but for the fact that the level of hypocrisy associated with it, is blatantly overwhelming.
Many a times we have heard the war cry and proposals to defeat corruption particularly the war against corruption. But instead of corruption to be diminishing and ebbing away, it is rather gaining momentum. 
So this time around, can we take this summit serious or it is just an intellectual and esoteric exercise?
Corruption poses a great danger in Africa especially among the oil producing nations of Africa. The former South African president Thabo Mbek, who became the chairman of a panel that monitors Africa's unlawful financial capital flight, reported that "Over 50 billion U.S. dollars is illicitly transferred from Africa annually with multinational corporations being the main culprits."
And it was further stated by the panel that "Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced an exodus of more than 700 billion dollars in capital flight since 1970, a sum that far surpasses the region's external debt outstanding of roughly 175 billion dollars. It is believed that some of the money wound up in private accounts at the same banks that were making loans to African governments."
The sources of the capital flight comes mostly from earnings of oil and mineral exports and Osita Ogbu, a Fellow at Brookings suggested that  "billions of dollars in debt that Africa has accumulated in its post-colonial era are partially a result of irresponsible foreign lenders," as reported.
When it comes to bribery and money laundering, Royal African Society reported: "The World Bank estimates that $1 trillion is paid in bribes each year throughout the world. African countries are prominent among those said to be corrupt in Transparency International's Corruption Index and the negative impact of high levels of bribery and theft is compounded by the tendency to take the ill-gotten proceeds out of the continent. Indeed, the African Union estimates that the continent loses as much as $148 billion a year to corruption. This money is rarely invested in Africa but finds its way into the international banking system and often into western banks. The proceeds of corrupt practices in Africa, (which the African experts group recommended in 2002 should be classified as a 'crime against humanity' because of its impact on ordinary people), are often laundered and made respectable by some of the most well-known banks in the City of London or the discreet personal bankers of Geneva and Zurich."
And it further stressed that "while the Swiss have been cleaning up their banking system, the City of London is now the laundry of choice for much dirty money."
Therefore this is not the time to give a lip service and issue press releases that will be buried in heaps of failures of yesterdays.
Anti-corruption legislation is utmost important to be enacted in the West with regards to money laundering. For the responsibility of fighting corruption is too complex and gigantic to be left for one party. Both Africa and West must partake in the fight against corruption. The West must enact banking laws that will fish out bankers that accept laundered money and tainted wealth from corrupt African leaders and bureaucrats. Ill-gotten wealth must be returned to Africa without much ado, while the culprits must be exposed and prosecuted.
(Chiakwelu is Principal Policy Strategist at Afripol).

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