London | British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday described corruption as a cancer at the heart of the world’s problems which also drove people towards extremism. If we want to see countries escape poverty and become wealthy, we need to tackle corruption. If we want countries that have great natural resources to make sure that they can use those for the benefit of their people, we need to tackle corruption, Cameron said while speaking at the first two-day anti-corruption summit here.
If we want to defeat terrorism and extremism, we have to recognise that corruption and lack of access to justice can often be the way that people are driven towards extremism. Corruption is the cancer at the heart of so many problems we need to tackle in our world, Cameron said.
His views were echoed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said: Corruption, writ large, is as much of an enemy because it destroys nation states as some of the extremists we’re fighting. Kerry said that in his global travels he had been shocked by the degree to which he have found corruption pandemic in the world today. Corruption writ large is as much of an enemy, because it destroys nation states, as some of the extremists we’re fighting, he said.
The summit is part of Cameron’s attempt to lead a wider global effort to crack down on corruption. The UK government announced that foreign firms that own property in the UK must declare their assets publicly in a bid to stamp out money-laundering. Downing Street clarified that the plans for a register of foreign companies owning UK property would include those who already owned property in the UK as well as those seeking to buy.
Corrupt individuals and countries will no longer be able to move, launder and hide illicit funds through London’s property market, and will not benefit from our public funds, a statement said. Foreign companies own about 100,000 properties in England and Wales and that more than 44,000 of these were in London.
World leaders and politicians, including presidents of Nigeria, Afghanistan and Colombia, are attending the summit, as well as organisations such as the World Bank, OECD and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The gathering aims to produce a global declaration against corruption. Tax havens with UK links, including Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are represented, but the British Virgin Islands is not at the summit. Neither is FIFA, football’s governing body, which is at the centre of a large bribery scandal.