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Procrastination nations

Transparency Int'l

Are you a procrastinator? That’s okay, we know the feeling — what matters is that you meet the deadline.

Sadly, most EU member states have just missed their deadline for a crucial assignment. Following the Panama Papers, the EU agreed to reform its anti-money laundering framework and make it harder for organized crime networks and corrupt politicians to clean their dirty money. Today, January 10, was the deadline to implement public registers of company ownership. The majority of countries, from offshore havens like Malta and Cyprus, to major economies like France or Italy, have not taken the agreed steps.

Scandal after scandal has shown how anonymous companies enable corruption around the world. If the EU can’t make good on its promises to end them, it will encourage procrastinators elsewhere to keep dragging their feet, too.

Other global players also need to step up their game — for their own sake. Last week, reports from the US revealed that the military had been awarding contracts to companies without knowing who was actually behind them, threatening national security.

In the absence of registers that the authorities can rely on, revealing corrupt and fraudulent schemes falls to whistleblowers and journalists who handle leaked data, often at great risk to their own safety. Just yesterday, an investigative reporter was beaten and robbed by unknown men near his office in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He had been covering a massive corruption scandal involving high level public officials who had funnelled over US$ 1 billion of dirty money abroad, often through — you guessed it — anonymous shell companies.

What do you think? Let us know @anticorruption.

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