Corruption is a serious global problem that undermines social and economic development. Although corruption disproportionately impacts the poor, higher income groups tend to have much higher levels of corruption, according to findings from the Tax Justice Network. The use of anonymous corporate entities to conceal wealth by individuals, corporations and other groups, and for use in tax evasion and other financial crimes, contributes and furthers this inequality. In fact, many experts believe that the abuse of anonymous companies is at the very heart of the problem of corruption.
The United Nations General Assembly ("General Assembly") adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption ("Convention"), a legally binding international anti-corruption multilateral treaty, on October 31, 2003. And in order to raise awareness about corruption and to promote the role of the Convention in fighting and preventing it, the General Assembly designated December 9th as International Anti-Corruption Day. International Anti-Corruption Day has been observed annually since the passage of the Convention.
In summary of the pervasive issue of corruption and the UN's stance on tackling it, the Convention states that the UN is:
"concerned about the seriousness of problems and threats posed by corruption to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice and jeopardizing sustainable development and the rule of law."
Since the passage of the Convention, the international community has recognized that combatting corruption is necessary in order to sustain economic stability, reduce global poverty, maintain security, protect human rights and the environment, and address the issue of financial crime.
In fact, in a recent effort to address the misuse of anonymous entities, and to promote open standards and beneficial ownership transparency, a coalition of governments led by the UK has committed to a new global norm on beneficial ownership transparency and is looking to the international community for support of this initiative, which includes creation of a global asset registry. The proposed registry would include companies, trusts, and foundations, among other entities that typically lack transparency and are subject to widespread abuse. A panel of experts discussed this initiative in a live discussion hosted by the World Bank today, and available at the following link: https://live.worldbank.org/ending-shell-game cid=ECR_LI_worldbank_EN_EXT#.
To learn more about the UN Convention against Corruption, International Anti-Corruption Day, and to see what you can do to help combat corruption, click the following link: http://www.anticorruptionday.org/actagainstcorruption/en/about-the-campaign/index.html