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G20 offers carte blanche to kleptocrats at Bali summit

By abandoning their responsibility to tackle dirty money, G20 is losing any remaining credibility on anti-corruption

On Wednesday, the G20 wrapped up the 2022 leaders’ summit in Bali under the Indonesian presidency. After a divisive year, the members managed to produce their first joint communiqué since last February when Russia invaded Ukraine. In it, the G20 tries to show leadership on key global challenges – focusing on Sustainable Development Goals from the climate crisis to food security. Yet it fails to make progress on the critical issue of transnational corruption.

Maíra Martini, corrupt money flows expert at Transparency International, said:

“This year, the world suffered the impact of unchecked kleptocracy with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its global repercussions. While the G20 was not designed to address security issues, as stated in the leaders’ communiqué, it does have a mandate to discuss and improve the global financial system. That is, in fact, why it was created in the first place. By bringing together advanced and emerging economies from every continent of the world it has a unique opportunity – and responsibility – to jointly discuss and implement key anti-money laundering reforms that can stop kleptocrats from amassing wealth and power. But in this they have failed at every opportunity this year.

“This summit’s communiqué touches on a wide range of issues, and includes just one paragraph on preventing the flow of dirty money and cross-border corruption – which is essentially copy-pasted from previous years. In a year when progress was most needed, the G20 has shown no ambition, and no leadership to stop the flow of dirty money.

“While we wait for the G20 to grow a backbone and stand up to kleptocracy, its inaction will cost the world profoundly. Cross-border corruption robs people everywhere, but especially sabotages vulnerable public institutions and economies in low- and middle-income countries. G20’s continued negligence at this crucial time will be a stain on its legacy for years to come.”

While strife between members made movement difficult inside the summit, civic space faced serious limitations in surrounding Bali. Multiple civil society groups were banned from holding meetings in the days surrounding the summit, and Transparency International was blocked from sharing an anti-kleptocracy message on a billboard outside the airport. We had already arranged for it, but the advertising agency blocked such messaging, citing the governor’s instructions around the summit and suggesting a more “positive message”.

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