Cameron promises to fight global corruption in wake of Panama Papers

Lynsey Barber
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Activists Seek Transparency In Panama Papers Aftermath
Panama Papers leak will be made publicly searchable on Monday (Source: Getty)

The Prime Minister has promised to fight global corruption ahead of a summit due to be held in London this week where the Panama Papers leak is likely to dominate the agenda.

David Cameron has said he will put tackling corruption at the "top of the international agenda" at the international anti-corruption summit this Thursday, which will be attended by top government officials from around the world.

Read more: Business beware: The Panama Papers are about to be made public

"It destroys jobs and holds back economic growth, traps the poorest in desperate poverty, and undermines our security by pushing people towards extremist groups," he said.

"The battle against corruption will not be won overnight. It will take time, courage and determination to deliver the reforms that are necessary. But we cannot hope to solve the major global challenges we face without tackling the exploitation, fraud and dishonesty at their heart. For too long there has been a taboo about tackling this issue head-on. The summit will change that. Together we will push the fight against corruption to the top of the international agenda where it belongs."

The leaders are expected to sign an agreement on tackling the issue.

US President Barack Obama announced plans for a crackdown on international tax evasion just days ago, by pushing new rules through Congress which would close loopholes.

“In recent weeks, the disclosure of the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ – millions of leaked documents reportedly revealing the use of anonymous offshore shell companies – has brought the issues of illicit financial activity and tax evasion into the spotlight,” the White House said.

“The Panama Papers underscore the importance of the efforts the United States has taken domestically, and the efforts we have undertaken with our international partners, to address these shared challenges.”

The US secretary of state John Kerry is expected to attend the summit this week, along with Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, and Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg. Speakers will include World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and International Monetary Fund boss Christine Lagarde.

Read more: There's still more to come from the Panama Papers

However, the Panama Papers leak of millions of documents detailing offshore tax arrangements could cause more ripples this week and cast a shadow over the event, which was scheduled before the information emerged.

The documents, which revealed that Cameron's father's company was among those linked to offshore tax, will be made public in more detail on Monday. Information on more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations and funds in the leak from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca will be published in searchable form by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

An agenda for the summit has yet to be announced but campaigners have called for the UK to "put its own house in order".

“The Prime Minister’s global leadership on fighting corruption is welcome but the UK must establish credibility if this process is to work," said Robert Barrington, head of Transparency International UK.

"Overseas bribery by UK companies, the laundering of corrupt assets through the City, dirty money entering the UK’s property market through secretive offshore safe havens, such as British overseas territories, as well as numerous political corruption scandals at home, all call into question the UK’s credentials on corruption.”

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