In today’s news…
As expected, Christine Lagarde has become the new head of the International Monetary Fund. The position came up for grabs when her predecessor resigned after being charged with sexual assault. But Lagarde may not be above reproach either, as she is currently under investigation for her her involvement in a questionable legal settlement involving 403 million euros in public money.
In the US, the trial of businessmen caught in a sting trying to defraud the people of Gabon is a sign of an increased willingness to crack down on Americans who try to bribe foreign officials. At the same time, an unassuming house in Cheyenne, Wyoming suggests tax havens are not just islands in the Caribbean.
British Prime Minister David Cameron reminds us his government is taking the lead on aid transparency. So far, only 12 governments are signatories to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Germany is the only other G8 country among them.
Britain also found itself in a minority position when its delegates recently opted not to support a proposed International Labour Organization convention aimed at protecting the rights of domestic workers. Although the motion passed, the US, Canada and the Netherlands made it clear that in spite of their votes of support, they were unlikely to ratify the convention.
Argentina is not the only G20 country struggling to tackle money laundering. Up to $15 billion is laundered annually in Canada. And new statistics show its police only manage to identify a suspect in 18 percent of money laundering cases and prosecutors secure a conviction in just a third of trials in which money laundering is the most serious charge.
A number of civil society organizations have signed an open letter calling for the UN to establish an international tax cooperation body, while Christian Aid’s Julian Boys blasts the International Accounting Standards Board for secrecy he argues harms both the world’s poor and the IASB’s own interests.
Libya says the International Criminal Court arrest warrants issued against Gadhafi and his sons end any possibility of a negotiated settlement to the current conflict, thereby providing additional ammunition for those who argue international justice in its current form may actually harm the cause of peace in Africa.
Despite much fretting in wealthy countries about perceived mass influxes of refugees, a new UN report shows 80 percent of the world’s refugees are in poor countries, with Pakistan, Iran and Syria leading the way. The findings prompted UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres to speak of a “worrying unfairness in the international protection paradigm.”
The Overseas Development Institute’s Jonathan Glennie, a vocal proponent of “beyond aid” thinking, writes about reducing aid dependence rather than reducing aid. The former requires replacing aid money with other sources of revenue. The article draws extensively from a recent talk by a Uganda Revenue Authority official who asks: “Is foreign aid to Africa promoting the strengthening of tax administration or simply having a substitution effect?”