Stolen assets of developing countries must be returned: PM tells UN

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan today (Thursday) has called upon the world community to take stern measures to immediately stop the exploitation of developing countries by returning the ‘stolen assets’.

He expressed his views while addressing a high-level panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) on the sidelines of the ongoing UN General Assembly session.

The prime Minister pointed out that billions of dollars illicitly flow out of developing countries each year. “In this regard, PTI government had come with a robust public mandate to get rid of this menace from our country,” he asserted.

“Although the PTI government had taken several initiatives domestically, what is required is strengthening international cooperation to bring perpetrators of financial crimes to justice,” he remarked.

Pointing out the figures, PM Imran said, “$1 trillion is taken out each year by these white-collar criminals, $20-40 billion is in the form of bribes received by these 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 mutinational companies,” he said.

He proposed some recommendations to the international community to curb the illicit financial flows:

1. Stolen assets of developing countries including proceeds from corruption, bribery and other crimes must be returned immediately.

2. The authorities in heaven destinations must impose strict penalties on those financial institutions which receive or utilise such illicit money and assets.

3. The enablers of corruption and bribery such as accountants and lawyers and other intermediaries must be regulated and monitored closely.

4. The beneficial owner of foreign companies must be revealed immediately upon inquiry by the affected government.”

5. The multi-national companies must not be allowed to resort to profit shifting for relocating their operations to low tax jurisdictions in a bid to evade taxes.

6. 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 flaws to ensure coherence, consistency and equity in their work.

“Unless these steps are taken the difference between rich and poor countries will keep growing. The developing countries will get impoverished,” PM Imran concluded.

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