December 23, 2012 10:20 pm

A milestone in the battle against corruption

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From Mr Alexander Lebedev.

Sir, The signing of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act by President Barack Obama last week marked a milestone in the fight against global corruption (“Russia moves to ban US adoptions”, December 20). Yet the “Magnitsky case” is just one of many involving national, international and Russian fraudsters and corrupt officials.

Crooked businessmen in collusion with public officials with business interests have embezzled and siphoned off at least $700bn from Russia over the past 15 years, according to the Tax Justice Network. In the face of theft on such a scale, US efforts against global corruption appear limited. To tackle this problem, there must be joint efforts by the leading powers, some of which have turned themselves into a promised land for corrupt officials and fraudsters from all over the world. It is necessary to stop the practice of granting asylum to dirty capital and to clean up the offshore Augean stables, outlawing the practice of nominee ownership.

Gordon Brown talked about this at the Group of Eight summit in 2009. Isn’t this what the Group of 20’s Anti-Corruption Working Group should be dealing with? Why isn’t the 2010 US law on “illegal proceeds” working? What have the UN efforts resulted in? Why hasn’t the relevant EU directive been ratified yet?

At an international level, it is necessary to establish an organisation with the broadest authority to investigate crimes of corruption and fraud linked to the cross-border movement of suspects and capital.

In September, the next G20 summit will be held in St Petersburg. The inclusion of these proposals on the agenda would send a clear message to the fraudsters who participated in the embezzlement of billions of roubles from public coffers that they will no longer be allowed to get away with it.

Alexander Lebedev, Publisher of Novaya Gazeta, Moscow and London

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