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A commitment to fight corruption in the final communique by the leaders of the G7 meeting in Elmau in Germany has been welcomed by an anti-corruption campaign group.
Maíra Martini, corrupt money flows expert at Transparency International (TI), says: “It’s encouraging that G7 leaders have now clearly acknowledged the disastrous impacts of kleptocracy – and how corruption and illicit finance enable it all. After Russia invaded Ukraine, G7 leaders promised to “hunt down” the assets Russian elites have stashed in their economies. It seemed like the beginning of the end of Western complicity in enabling kleptocracy. But in the following months, their silence on any concrete actions has been worrying.
“It’s good to see that G7 leaders have now asked the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force to report by the end of the year “on potential additional measures to be taken”. But the task force should also tell us what they have actually done to sanction and confiscate wealth, and what is still blocking their work. In fact, Transparency International has found there are myriad obstacles hindering multilateral efforts to target Russian elites and their wealth.
“It’s also a good sign that G7 leaders see the need to look beyond Russia. One concrete way they can do that is to expand REPO’s mandate to target illicit wealth from everywhere and make it a permanent body.”
While the communique stressed Russia’s war in Ukraine and the work needed for global energy and food security, it said: “Corruption and related illicit finance and proceeds of crime drain public resources, can often fuel organised crime, enable kleptocratic systems to accumulate wealth and power at the expense of citizens, undermine democratic governance. The Russian war against Ukraine has highlighted how kleptocracies pose an immediate threat to the freedom and national security of our societies …. To hold kleptocrats, criminals and their enablers to account globally, we will broaden our global fight against cross-border corruption, including by supporting African partners in setting up 15 additional beneficial ownership registers.”
The document spoke also of work ‘to strengthen democracies and our institutions against disinformation, including foreign information manipulation’, and ‘hybrid threats’ and complained of ‘Russia’s unprecedented information war’. Also in broad security terms, it spoke of ‘transnational threats including those posed by Russia and other authoritarian regimes, particularly in the field of cyber security, illicit finance and law enforcement’. Also committed to was ‘our fight against trafficking in human beings and our efforts to prevent and combat child sexual abuse and exploitation globally, both online and offline’.
In May, a study by TI, titled Up to the task? The state of play in countries committed to freezing and seizing Russian dirty money, argued that the authorities across the G7 lack the information, capacity and powers needed to track down illicit wealth. As things stand, governments will also face legal challenges, the report pointed out.