Transparency International calls on governments and their enforcement authorities across the world to combine forces to end money laundering impunity. These authorities should assign the highest priority to prosecuting individuals and banks when clear evidence exists of their involvement in illicit international financial transactions.
José Ugaz, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transparency International, stated: “Evidence of money laundering abounds, but for the greatest part investigations have only resulted in corporate fines with almost no criminal prosecutions of individuals. Actions by national judicial authorities to end this criminal behaviour are largely absent.
“This lack of senior management accountability sends a signal to the corrupt individuals and corporations laundering cash, and to their banks, lawyers and other agents who assist them in their crimes, that in this area there is impunity. This is wrong.”
Transparency International calls for judicial authorities around the globe to enforce anti-money laundering regulations and pursue and prosecute those who flout the rules. Banks need to oversee their employees and enforce higher ethical standards, which have to be reflected in the tone from the top, the performance management system and remuneration.
Governments should introduce public registers of beneficial ownership information of companies to facilitate anti-money laundering due diligence by banks as well as anti-money laundering investigations.
Recent investigations in the US, UK and Switzerland in bank practices have put a spotlight on these issues.
“Transparency International will continue to vigorously campaign to unmask the corrupt and those who collude with them: the bankers, the accountants, the real estate brokers, the consultants and the other professional intermediaries who enable the corrupt to launder their ill-gotten cash into the mainstreams of the world’s financial system. Time behind bars for those who break the law, rather than settlements that shift the burden to shareholders, would signal a time to change,” said Ugaz.
Approximately 100,000 individuals and corporations held accounts at the Swiss branch of Europe’s largest bank, HSBC and investigations by the media have been found many to allegedly conceal funds for tax evasion and others to harbour the alleged proceeds of corruption.
UBS, one of the two largest banks in Switzerland, confirmed on February 10 that it is being investigated by US authorities into whether it helped Americans evade taxes.
The New York Times is publishing a series of reports on the use of shell companies to buy high value property in New York city. These shell companies have concealed the identity of the owners and the sources of their wealth, which in some cases allegedly is linked to corruption.