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Accolade for World Bank, brickbats for offshore banking centres

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have received unexpected support for their new anti-corruption policies. In their Lima Declaration Against Corruption, over 1,000 delegates drawn from 93 countries attending last week's 8th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Lima, Peru, called for acceleration of the new World Bank and IMF policies, and particularly the suspension of lending to governments who do not adequately address the corruption issue.

The IACC is the world's leading forum for dialogue on the corruption issue. Delegates included ministers, public officials, and representatives from the private sector, civil society and international organisations. "The mood was overwhelming in support of Jim Wolfensohn and Michael Camdessus", said Peter Eigen, Chairman of the Berlin-based international anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, thus praising the World Bank's and IMF's presidents.

More than this, the IACC insisted that tax deductibility for bribes in international business transactions be ended, and called for much tougher regulation of off-shore banking centres, Dr Eigen said.

The Lima Declaration calls for inforced regulation to ensure that assets under bank control are governed by agreed international norms so that illicitly gained assets can be traced, frozen and forfeited. It also calls for those offshore banking centres which fail to meet these standards to be excluded from the international banking system. The spirit of the IACC was highly encouraging, Mr Eigen said. Delegates without exception insisted that banking secrecy must not provide a shield for criminals or to obstruct the exposure of corruption.

The Lima Declaration includes a programme of action at both the international and national level. Many institutions represented at Lima have been assigned concrete tasks for follow-up action, and progress will be reviewed at the 9th IACC to be held in South Africa in 1999.

The text of the Declaration will be available at from 17 September.

Note for editors: Transparency International is the secretariat to the Council of the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC). Transparency is a not-for-profit organisation, aiming to curb corruption at both national and international levels. based in Berlin, it has National Chapters in more than 60 countries.

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