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UN panel seeks punishment for lawyers, accountants enabling financial crimes

UN panel seeks punishment for lawyers, accountants enabling financial crimes
February 25
22:04 2021

The United Nations high-level panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) has called for punitive measures against bankers, lawyers and accountants enabling financial crimes.

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Ibrahim Mayaki, FACTI co-chair and former prime minister of Niger, made the call on Thursday, during the launch of the panel’s report.

“Closing loopholes that allow money laundering, corruption, and tax abuse and stopping wrongdoing by bankers, accountants, and lawyers are steps in transforming the global economy for the universal good,” he said.

The panel, convened by the 74th president of the united nations general assembly and the 75th president of the economic and social council on March 2, 2020, is co-chaired by Mayaki and Dalia Grybauskaitė, former president of Lithuania.

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FACTI seeks to contribute to the overall efforts undertaken by member states to implement the vision of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

In its report, the panel asked multinationals to publish accounting and financial information on a country to country basis.

It noted that countries should adopt transparency in government and create a centralised registry for holding beneficial ownership information on all legal vehicles.

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“International anti-money-laundering standards should require that all countries create a centralised registry for holding beneficial ownership information on all legal vehicles. The standards should encourage countries to make the information public,” the report reads.

“Improve tax transparency by having all private multinational entities publish accounting and financial information on a country-by-country basis.

“Building on existing voluntary efforts, all countries should strengthen public procurement and contracting transparency, including transparency of emergency measures taken to respond to COVID-19.”

The UN panel asked countries to develop legislative framework in pursuing cross-border financial crimes.

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It demanded protection for journalists, human rights defenders, anticorruption advocates and whistle blowers across the world.

The panel also called for an international tax convention to resolve tax disputes and other global tax concerns.

Speaking at the event, Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, said Nigeria will implement the UN panel report to boost economic recovery and achievement of sustainability agenda.

He said the report will help to improve financial integrity, transparency and accountability.

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“I would also like to emphasize that for the international community to recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the achievement of the 2030 agenda, we must implement all recommendations contained in the FACTI panel’s file report,” he said.

“These recommendations, if implemented, have the potential to significantly reduce existing structures that make it impossible for countries to generate a sizable chunk of their resources.

“The panel has correctly underscored that transformative change can only be possible when all countries commit to acting together for the greater good of the larger part of humanity. So we must take collective action to combat illicit outflows and establish financial integrity in all countries or region.

“We are gratified that the FACTI panel has made recommendations that can lead us towards a fairer international tax regime as well as address the continuing advocacy for country by country reporting, open disclosure, and automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership and also eliminate financial secrecy jurisdictions.”

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