Happy Holidays from the Financial Transparency Coalition! This year has marked a true turning point for financial transparency. I’d like to take a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come:
- In March, the European Union passed a directive mandating full country by country reporting for the banking sector. After a significant advocacy push, the European Council committed in May to extend this to all sectors in the future.
- In May, Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel made illicit flows a focus of its annual report, urging world leaders to tackle the problem and drawing attention to the fact that Africa loses twice as much in illicit financial outflows as it receives in international aid.
- In September, in part due to the efforts of our civil society and government members, G20 governments meeting in St. Petersburg committed to implement automatic exchange of tax information by 2015. The next step is to ensure that this agreement includes developing countries so the terms also work for non-G20 countries.
- In August and October, three bills were introduced in the US Congress that, if enacted, would make it easier to hold top executives at U.S. financial institutions responsible for anti-money laundering compliance at their bank, and would require states to obtain the identities of the people behind corporations formed under their laws.
- In October, the UK government announced its intention to institute a public register of beneficial ownership, the first country to do so. Just two years ago, the UK was a blocker of any progress on the issue. Our advocacy played a large role in this transformation, and we hope more governments will follow.
- This year, we held a series of regional conferences from Tunis to Delhi, culminating in our annual conference in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in October. The conferences contributed to growing buzz around the importance of tackling illicit flows, and participants exchanged within and across regions to identify solutions and harmonize the message back to their governments.
But there’s plenty left to do! We head into the New Year energized to do our part in stemming the tide of illicit financial flows from developing countries. Here’s a glimpse of some of the battles ahead:
- In January, the European Parliament is discussing ways to improve the European Union’s (EU) Anti-Money Laundering rules. Requiring companies to disclose their true owners in a public registers in EU member states is among the proposals that will be put to vote. We, along with our government allies and partners at the ONE Campaign, Oxfam, and other civil society organizations, hope to see public registers this included. Check out our factsheet to learn more.
- In the lead-up to the Brisbane G20 in November, Coalition members across the globe will be asking their leaders to make commitments at the summit, particularly on beneficial ownership transparency, automatic exchange of tax information, and country by country reporting. The good news is that the summit’s hosts recently prioritized reforming the global financial system, strengthening tax systems, and fighting corruption. By speaking with one voice, in many languages, we can be a powerful force for progress on these issues.
We’ll keep you posted on these and other developments, and we ask that you also let us know about your work in the coming year.
Written by Porter McConnell