LONDON – Prime Minister David Cameron revealed today that the UK will be seeking action from the G8 to end the abuse of anonymous shell companies. He has called for information about who ultimately owns and controls companies (beneficial ownership) to be registered and made publicly available.
LONDON – The massive cache of leaked documents demonstrates how hidden ownership of shell companies facilitates corruption, tax dodging and other crimes. Mr. Cameron has made a welcome promise to make tax and financial transparency priority issues at the meeting of G8 leaders in Northern Ireland this June.
LONDON – A new investigation by Global Witness today reveals the systemic corruption and illegality at the heart of government in Sarawak, Malaysia’s largest state. A film, shot undercover during the investigation, reveals for the first time the instruments used by members of the ruling Taib family and its local lawyers to skirt Malaysia’s laws and taxes, creaming off huge profits at the expense of indigenous people and hiding their dirty money in Singapore.
LONDON / WASHINGTON DC – The British bank, HSBC, made a $20.6bn profit in 2012 and paid its CEO a $3m bonus, it was announced today. This is in spite of the fact that HSBC was fined a record $1.9bn for doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist financers and pariah states.
LONDON – The Observer alleged today that one of the key companies involved in the horsemeat scandal was set up such that it hid the names of the people who own and control it. “This illustrates why hidden company ownership is such a problem,” said Rosie Sharpe, campaigner at Global Witness. “Criminals – whether they be fraudsters passing horsemeat off as beef, arms dealers fuelling wars, or corrupt dictators nicking their country’s wealth – need to hide their identities, and at the moment it’s all too easy to do this by setting up a company.”
LONDON – Norwegian state-owned oil company Statoil has formally distanced itself from a U.S. oil industry lawsuit that seeks to scrap a landmark transparency and anti-corruption law established in the United States.
LONDON – As the scandal grows around a Nigerian oil deal involving Shell and Italian firm Eni who made a US$1.1 billion payment that ended up in the accounts of a company controlled by a corrupt former Nigerian Oil Minister, the Dutch government is coming under increasing pressure to stop supporting opt-outs in new EU legislation that would enable companies such as Shell to avoid having to publicly report these payments in certain circumstances.
BEIJING – The Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) has the potential to play a greater role in improving extractive company transparency and disclosure and build on its existing social responsibility and corporate governance measures, said Global Witness and Syntao in a new report published today.
LONDON – Today, Europe’s largest bank, HSBC, announced that it will pay $1.9 billion (£1.2 billion) to settle allegations that it laundered money for drugs cartels, terrorists and pariah states. During approximately the same period that HSBC failed to check whether the dollars it was shipping from Mexico to the US were drugs money, 47,000 people died at the hands of Mexican drugs traffickers.
LONDON – Bloomberg and Reuters news agencies have reported that the International Monetary Fund has halted its loan programme with the Democratic Republic of Congo because of concerns over transparency in the country’s mining sector. While Congo is clearly in desperate need of funds, Global Witness believes that concerns over possible corruption in the country’s mining sector were so serious that the IMF was justified in stopping its lending.
LONDON – The first official analysis of the “Kabul Bank Crisis” of 2010 reveals an urgent need for reform in the international banking system, said Global Witness today. The “Report of the Public Inquiry into the Kabul Bank Crisis”, published today by Afghanistan’s Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) shows how the perpetrators behind the fraud were able to repeatedly bypass the checks and balances of regulators, donors, auditors and international banks, and steal enough money to incur a bailout costing approximately 6 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP.
LONDON – New information suggests that the US$1.1 billion paid by Shell and the Italian energy company ENI for a Nigerian oil block could fall foul of anti-corruption legislation and highlights the urgent need for strong disclosure laws across the EU. A directive being discussed by the EU Council and Parliament must require full “project-by-project” disclosure to ensure such payments are publicly reported.