31 October 2010

International Thief Thief

Global Witness drop some UK development-policy-beyond-aid wisdom.

British banks have accepted millions of pounds from corrupt Nigerian politicians, raising serious questions imageabout their commitment to tackling financial crime.

Without access to the international financial system it would be much harder for corrupt politicians from the developing world to loot their national treasuries or accept bribes. By taking money from such customers, British banks are fuelling corruption, entrenching poverty and undermining international development assistance.

The UK regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) needs to do much more to prevent banks from facilitating corruption. As yet no British bank has been publically fined, or even named, by the regulator for taking corrupt funds, whether willingly or through negligence. This is in stark contrast to the U.S., where banks have been fined hundreds of millions of dollars for handling dirty money.

The UK’s aid to poor countries has been ring fenced against budget cuts. Meanwhile, banks – themselves propped up by taxpayer’s money - are getting away with practices that fundamentally undermine the effect of aid. This is not just illogical, it is immoral

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