A world leader in the fight against corruption: statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs to the General Assembly
Mr. President, Excellencies,
Corruption is a scourge.
It is the acid that burns the rule of law, democracy and public confidence in their institutions.
It slows down development, it drains the poorest nations of their wealth and keeps their people trapped in poverty.
Over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every year.
And that adds 10% to the costs of doing business anywhere in the world.
So we really need to take action.
I am proud that the UK is a world leader in the fight against corruption.
Since 2006, the National Crime Agency’s International Corruption Unit has frozen, confiscated or returned more than £ 1.1 billion in stolen assets in developing countries.
Most recently, we signed an agreement to return £ 4.2million to Nigeria.
This is money that was recovered from the associates of the former Governor of Nigeria’s Delta State, James Ibori.
The UK was the first in the G20 to establish a public register of beneficial owners of companies.
It was a milestone in the fight against the use of anonymous shell companies to move corrupt money around the world.
More than 4.6 million companies are now registered on this register.
More than 100 countries have now committed to some form of beneficial ownership transparency.
Four years ago, we created the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Center in London …
Which helped freeze over £ 300million in suspected corrupt assets around the world, and also led to dozens of arrests.
We know that the UK’s status as a global financial center makes us an attractive place to invest. It is extremely welcome.
But it also means that we need to redouble our efforts to prevent corrupt actors and their cronies from laundering their dirty money through UK banks or UK companies.
Thus, with our anti-corruption strategy, we are innovating in innovative methods of asset recovery, such as unexplained wealth orders and account freeze orders.
We have imposed sanctions on individuals involved in serious acts of corruption in 6 different countries.
And that included penalties imposed on 14 people involved in the $ 230 million tax evasion in Russia, perpetrated by an organized criminal group, and disclosed by Sergei Magnitsky.
It includes sanctions against a Sudanese businessman for embezzling state property in one of the world’s poorest countries, fueling instability and conflict.
Through asset freezes and travel bans, we can help prevent corrupt actors from using the UK as a safe haven for their dirty money, while at the same time deterring corruption around the world.
But if we are to stop corruption, it must first be exposed.
In the spotlight of the media and investigative journalists,
By strong civil society bodies,
And by the authorities who are prepared and able to act.
And we must defend these institutions.
For example, the UK is the co-chair of the Global Coalition for Media Freedom, which now has 47 member countries. We are committed to supporting journalists who do their vital work without fear or favor.
And through our G7 presidency this year, we are taking action to strengthen open societies, shared values and the rules-based international order.
We have agreed to a G7 statement for this special session that demonstrates our united resolve.
And G7 interior ministers will take further action against corruption at their September meeting.
We therefore urge all countries to follow up on the declaration we have subscribed to today, to ensure transparency in the ownership of companies by establishing beneficial ownership registers, more open public procurement, greater transparency in the public finance management and a safer environment for journalists to shed light on corruption.
In addition to all this, we call for the participation of NGOs and others in the reviews of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, to ensure that this process is as robust and rigorous as possible.
Because corruption is not a victimless crime.
By lining their pockets, corrupt actors cause untold damage and suffering to the countries and communities they exploit for their own predatory greed.
We must work together to end these corrosive practices.
In doing so, we will foster confidence and certainty,
Stimulate investments to help rebuild economies that work for all,
And take an essential step towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
And as a force for good in the world, Global Britain will fully play its part in this effort.