This op-ed, authored by board member John Prendergast, originally appeared in Newsweek.
The Panama Papers leak and the Global Anti-Corruption Summit convened in London last week by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron have focused attention on corruption and tax evasion, highlighting the extraordinary wealth being hidden to evade international regulation.
Such belated attention is welcome, but will only matter if it leads to enforceable changes that benefit the people and nations victimized in a dystopian Oz of shadowy deals and dirty money.
In many countries, the system of the state has been hijacked by kleptocratic networks using schemes like shell corporations in tax havensthat mask who the real owners are in order to privatize vast natural resource wealth. There are also connections between hijacked states and networks of terrorism and organized crime. As it stands, grand corruption, conflict, and national security threats serve each other’s interests, and their connections will continue to deepen unless commitments made at the summit are implemented.