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Ikram Sehgal |

Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in line with Pakistan’s action plan agreed with Financial Action Task Force (FATF), continues to be a serious problem. The Oct 31 World Economic Forum’s (WEF) “Partnering Against Corruption Initiative” (PACI) Fall Meeting in Geneva agreed that without conforming to international standards there can be no effective implementation of laws.

Without adequate proof of assets and money trail, it is almost impossible to prove a crime in court when our methods and tools of investigation in the emerging countries remain outdated. Developed countries, where most of the ill-gotten money/assets reside, pontificate endlessly about adhering to the “rule of law”, where is the morality of not practicing what they preach by not cooperating in implementing the laws on their own statute books?

Remaining hostage to inept and corrupt rulers and their cronies is not an option anymore. For anti-corruption measures to succeed, re-focussing PACI’s “trust and integrity” has to be connected with character building.

The prosecution process being weak is further compounded by our criminal investigations/indictment invariably being waylaid by political influence and/or outright bribery. The “Panama Leaks” set off a national furore when Nawaz Sharif and his children were discovered controlling shell companies through which they own expensive residential properties in London. Essentially not illegal, offshore companies are still unethical because they are meant for tax evasion by exploiting loopholes in tax laws.

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Invariably meant for hiding illegal wealth, money laundering, etc it can be manipulated for illegal dealings.  Despite foot-dragging by various tax and/or asset havens in the developed world, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) mandated by the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) managed to obtain substantial evidence.

The criminal indictment subsequently brought by an Anti-corruption court on orders from a five-member SC Bench and denial of the Sharif’s review petition was appreciated by PACI members as a bold move to fight corruption and the prevailing impunity of the powerful. Members recognized that the court ruling has the potential to curb to some degree the level of corruption by those untouchables who while exercising power and influence would also publicly thumb their noses at the rule of law.

A powerful sitting PM being ousted from office has considerably strengthened the credibility of the superior judiciary. This investigation conveys a strong message that nobody is beyond the reach of the law anymore, everyone will be held accountable.

PACI emphasized overcoming the difficulties or even impossibility of getting information from countries like the UK in such cases, this obduracy being a sad reflection on their subscribing to rule of law. Expensive apartments in a square mile around Hyde Park in London are full of known white-collar criminals in the form of former dictators, bank defaulters, tax evaders, money-launderers, etc.

This continues unabated despite former PM David Cameron’s much-hyped International London Conference in May 2016 defining ways and means to deal with corruption. Hiding the means of criminal activity is sheer hypocrisy. Once considered unthinkable, even Switzerland is now providing bank details of customers. Real-time cooperation on a fast-track and coordinated basis must use all the means and resources available.

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The latest available technologies are effective but can be misused if those who have the responsibility of operating them are not honest. Another problem is that legal lacunae that make a deal formally okay may be morally wrong and harmful; efforts have to be made to develop rules for holders of public positions and businesses bridging the gap between legally and ethically right action.

A one-of-its-kind global, multi-industry anti-corruption initiative, WEF’s PACI is now recognized as one of the world’s leading business forum on anti-corruption and transparency.

A one-of-its-kind global, multi-industry anti-corruption initiative, WEF’s PACI is now recognized as one of the world’s leading business forum on anti-corruption and transparency. Establishing multi-industry principles and practices will enable creating of a level and competitive playing field based on integrity and fairness. Corruption scandals are major impediments to conducting business in advanced and emerging market economies, involving significant economic and social costs. 

PACI provides an exceptional and safe space for practitioners to improve their compliance efforts and share best practices at the organizational level. To this end, PACI is attempting to raise business standards and contribute to a competitive, transparent, accountable and ethical business society. Privileged to be a speaker on “Re-focussing trust and integrity in a fractured world” panel facilitated by Ramya Krishnaswamy, Head of PACI, we explored ideas on what impact one could see on local security and stability in the unfolding of recent corruption scandals/efforts to tackle corruption.

“The Future of Trust and Integrity” panel facilitated by Isabel Cane, Project Lead PACI, gave an input on how to invest low levels of trust at the interface of business and institutions while maintaining confidence, stability, and growth. Session III: “Catalyzing impact through Public-Private Cooperation” facilitated by Nicola Bonucci, Director of Legal Affairs, OECD addressed emerging collaborative solutions between stakeholders to design trust and integrity back into the system, while in Session IV “The next compliance frontier: integrity by design” Gemma Aiolfi, Basel Institute on Governance, discussed different stakeholders designing integrity into their respective operations.

PACI emphasized overcoming the difficulties or even impossibility of getting information from countries like the UK in such cases, this obduracy being a sad reflection on their subscribing to rule of law.

Penelope Lepeudry, Partner, Deloitte, facilitated Session V, “Anti-corruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution” which deliberated on whether disruptions generated by technological innovations could be a game-changer for anti-corruption and how to leverage these changes to improve governance and accountability. PACI has succeeded in many more multinational companies (MNCs) strengthening their “Compliance Departments,” vesting them with vast and extraordinary powers.

A powerful sitting PM being ousted from office has considerably strengthened the credibility of the superior judiciary. This investigation conveys a strong message that nobody is beyond the reach of the law anymore, everyone will be held accountable. The “Al Capone” Formula being applied did skirt the fail-safe line about rule of law parameters but was necessary so as not to hinder the investigation.

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Across the broad accountability that includes the bureaucracy, judiciary and military can bring credibility to a system hounded by influence protecting criminality and corruption. The extreme necessities of national security aside, everyone should be open for detailed public scrutiny, a top-down approach first targetting those involved in big frauds.

The prosecution process being weak is further compounded by our criminal investigations/indictment invariably being waylaid by political influence and/or outright bribery.

Democracy must not camouflage crimes of those in power. In a Guardian article in April 2011, Bilal Hussain said that many countries are corrupt but at least they are competent. “Today a terrifying level of incompetence pervades the entire sphere of governance in Pakistan. Because of bribery, jobbery, and nepotism, the lower ranks of our civil bureaucracy are filled with incompetent and under-educated people.”

Add to that the private sector, in a recent “Night of the Long Knives” a whole bunch of mostly inefficient associates of a white-collar criminal were forced to resign from a renowned financial entity. Remaining hostage to inept and corrupt rulers and their cronies is not an option anymore. For anti-corruption measures to succeed, re-focussing PACI’s “trust and integrity” has to be connected with character building. Fighting corruption we must use all our resources combined, civil and military by cooperating universally in a corporate version of a “hybrid war” against corruption.

Ikram Sehgal, author of “Escape from Oblivion”, is Pakistani defense analyst and security expert. He is a regular contributor of articles in newspapers that include: The News and the Urdu daily Jang. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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