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Landmark High-Level Panel to Tackle Illicit Finance


NEW YORK, 2 March 2020 – Thought leaders from across the globe today joined an independent panel tasked with making recommendations to fix a financial system that allows trillions of dollars to be lost and hidden via tax evasion, tax avoidance, money laundering and corruption. The panel will build on existing work and ongoing efforts.

The High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel) was created jointly by the President of the United Nations General Assembly and the President of the United Nation Economic and Social Council – the leaders of two of the three main charter bodies of the UN. The Panel consists of 15 members drawn from policymakers, academia, civil society and the private sector.

“The money that is being hidden in offshore tax havens, laundered through shell companies and outright stolen from public coffers should be put toward ending poverty, educating every child, and building infrastructure that will create jobs and end our dependence on fossil fuels,”

said Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, co-chair of the panel and former prime minister of Niger.

“The systems that governments use to address different types of financial corruption are fraying and do not yet effectively deal with the new ways that are used to game the system,” he continued. “We aim to help change that.”

The panel will explore what further action is needed by governments and financial institutions in the following areas: financial and beneficial ownership transparency, tax matters, bribery and corruption, confiscation and disposal of the proceeds of crime, money laundering and the recovery and return of stolen assets.

The United Nations’ Member States have committed to an agenda of 17 global goals aimed at achieving a fair, equitable and safe planet. Good governance at all levels, and democratic and transparent institutions responsive to the needs of the people are necessary to achieve these goals.  And mobilizing financial resources is critical to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Additional annual investment needed to achieve just a few of the SDGs is estimated at over $2.5 trillion by 2030.

Insufficient financial integrity – including tax evasion and avoidance, money laundering and corruption,– is hindering governments from collecting their fair share of taxes. It also creates uneven playing fields that harm small- and medium-sized businesses and undermine equity and inclusiveness in our economies.

“In a world of cross-border trade, investment and finance often via digital platforms, there are limits to what countries can do on their own,” said Dr. Mayaki. “Illicit finance is a global problem that requires global cooperation in order to achieve effective solutions”

Twelve of the 15 panel members are confirmed, they include:

• Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and former Prime Minister of Niger, who will lead the panel.

• Ms. Annet Wanyana Oguttu, South Africa, Professor at University of Pretoria

• Ms. Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany, former German Minister for Development

• Ms. Irene Ovonji-Odida, Uganda, Former Member, AU/ECA High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa (Mbeki Panel), and former chair of the board ActionAid International

• Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo, Colombia, Professor at Columbia University, Board of Governors of Banco de la República (central bank of Colombia), former Finance Minister of COlombia

•  Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona, Chile, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

•  Ms. Manorma Soeknandan, Suriname, Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

•  Mr. Shahid Hafiz Kardar, Pakistan, Vice-Chancellor, Beaconhouse National University, former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan

•  Ms. Susan Rose-Ackerman, USA, Professor and Author, Yale University

•  Ms. Tarisa Watanagase, Thailand, former Governor, Bank of Thailand

•  Dr. YU Yongding, China, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

•  Mr. Yury Fedotov, Russia, former Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Panelists will meet several times over the course of the next year in regional consultations, convene experts and stakeholders from across all sectors and explore new analyses of the issues and solutions.  The work of the panel will be supported by a secretariat based in New York. An interim report will be issued in July 2020 and a final report in February 2021.

Key estimates on the scale of the problem

• Hidden, secret, fraudulent and misleading transactions prevent States from enforcing the law and collecting their fair share of taxes. Academic estimates say that around $7 trillion of private wealth is hidden in offshore tax havens.  In 2017, the equivalent of 10% of world GDP is held in tax havens globally, some estimates say.

• According to one IMF staff study, corporate profit shifting via tax havens collectively cost governments between $500 billion and $600 billion a year in lost corporate tax revenue, through legal and not-so-legal means. A similar research finding showed 40 per cent of their foreign profits, about $600 billion a year, out of the countries where their money was made and into lower-tax jurisdictions.

• Solutions can be achieved by greater transparency:  one recent study showed that balances in off-shore financial centres declined by 24 per cent after the introduction of greater transparency.

• Least developed nations and poor countries depend more on corporations to pay their taxes, according to the OECD. Corporate tax represents 15 per cent of total tax revenues in Africa and in Latin America, compared to 9 per cent in the most developed countries.

Money laundering by criminals, including drug traffickers and organized crime, has been estimated to be around $1.6 trillion, or 2.7 per cent of global GDP, according to a 2011 study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. This figure is consistent with the 2 to 5 per cent range the International Monetary Fund has calculated for the scale of money-laundering.


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For further information, please contact:

Kate Donovan, FACTI Panel communications:  Tel.  {+17183620606]  [email protected]