ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday called upon the international community to take steps to counter illicit flows of money, saying the “stolen assets of developing countries must be returned”, noting that billions of dollars illegally flow out of developing countries each year.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, PM Imran, on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session, addressed a high-level panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) asking the world forum to help prevent “this bleeding of the poor and developing countries”. He further said his government had come “with a robust public mandate to get rid of this menace from our country”.
“$1 trillion is taken out each year by these white-collar criminals,” he noted. “$20-40 billion is in the form of bribes received by these corrupt white-collar criminals; $7 trillion in stolen assets is parked in these safe tax haven destinations; $500-600 billion is lost each year in tax avoidance by multinational companies.”
Prime Minister Imran presented the following measures so that the world might curb illicit financial flows:
- The stolen assets of developing countries, including proceeds of corruption, bribery and other crimes, must be returned immediately
- The stories in haven destinations must impose criminal and financial penalties on their financial institutions which receive and utilise such money and assets
- The enablers of corruption and bribery such as accountants, lawyers and other intermediaries must be closely regulated, monitored and held accountable
- The beneficial ownership of foreign companies must be revealed immediately upon inquiry by the interested and affected governments
- Multinational corporations must not be allowed to resort to profit-shifting to low-tax jurisdictions for avoiding taxation. A global minimum corporate tax could prevent this practice
- Revenues from digital transactions should be taxed where the revenues are generated, not elsewhere
- Unequal investment treaties should be discarded or revised, and a fair system for adjudication of investment disputes set up
- All official and non-official bodies set up to control and monitor illicit financial flows must include all the interested countries
- The UN should set up a mechanism to coordinate and supervise the work of the various official and non-official bodies dealing with illicit financial flows to ensure coherence, consistency and equity in their work.
“Unless these steps are taken, the difference between the rich and poor countries will keep growing,” he said, adding that the gap can worsen the migration crisis, saying it “will be dwarfed by what will happen in the future”.
PM Imran added that Pakistan appreciated Nigeria and Norway’s initiative in establishing the panel.
Along with the FACTI panel, the premier also spoke at the ‘Poverty at a Crossroad: Using Leadership and the Multidimensional Poverty Index to Build Back Better’ event. The event was co-hosted by Pakistan and Chile.
Earlier on Twitter, the PMO said that the FACTI panel is being convened to “present the interim report of the FACTI panel, which identifies the major gaps in the implementation and the systemic shortcomings of the existing international frameworks for tax cooperation, anti-corruption [and] anti-money laundering”.
It added that the event would also “foster a discussion amongst civil society, international institutions, academia and the business sector to explore the issues highlighted in the FACTI panel’s interim report”.
It further said that the forum would be used to discuss priority actions regarding recognized challenges, “particularly in light of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
Furthermore, the event would also “foster a discussion amongst civil society, international institutions, academia and the business sector to explore the issues highlighted in the FACTI panel’s interim report”, the PMO added.
The prime minister is also scheduled to address the UNGA on Friday. His speech will focus on the Kashmir dispute, the Foreign Office (FO) said earlier.
In his speech at the 74th UNGA session last year, PM Imran had highlighted sufferings of Kashmiris and the Indian action of annexing the occupied territory.
The general debate, which is the centrepiece of any UNGA session, started from Tuesday.