Charmian Gooch is an anti-corruption campaigner who in 2014 was named on Bloomberg Markets’ 50 Most Influential list
When we imagine corruption it tends to be a minister or despot of a small overseas nation, living in fabulous luxury. Charmian lists a few perfect examples of this behaviour. However, these people cannot operate without support from the rest of the world. Their mansions and art purchases are arranged through global banks, and despots in oil-rich nations must do deals with the largest oil companies.
Many corrupt leaders make their profits through anonymous shell companies, which they secretly own. They are commonly used around the world to avoid paying taxes, but can also be used steal massive amounts of money from poor countries. A recent example involved Democratic Republic of Congo selling off state owned mining assets to a shell company, which quickly onsold them for massive profits. The people of Congo lost $1.3 billion from these deals – more then twice their education and health budgets combined. Charmian investigated the deal but many of the details are locked away in the shell companies.
There’s a view that corruption just happens, and it is impossible to change. But 2/3 of oil & mining companies (by value) are now covered by a transparency standard because groups demanded it. In a globalised world, corruption is a global business that needs solutions right here.
There were a lot of examples throughout this talk, and I struggled to find a take-away message from it. The main point was that corruption is everywhere – involving companies that are household names, and they are part of the corruption instigated by international despots.