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Watchdog calls on G20 to fight bank secrecy

Posted by | April 19, 2013 .

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Transparency International called Thursday for Group of 20 finance chiefs meeting in Washington to fight bank secrecy by backing a global system for the automatic exchange of bank data.

”The G20 finance ministers have the power to stop corrupt people hiding behind secret bank accounts and opaque corporate structures,” the head of the anti-corruption watchdog, Huguette Labelle, said in a statement.

Labelle said that making corporate structures more transparent would help deliver on the stated goals the G20, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund: ”increase financial stability, restore trust and prevent money laundering.”

Transparency International noted ”a flurry” of new rules in the European Union this year in support of the automatic exchange of financial information.
The 27-nation EU recently convinced several of its members, including Luxembourg, to adopt such a mechanism.

”Now it is the turn of the G20 as a whole to keep up the momentum for global financial reform,” Transparency’s chairman Labelle said.

The group’s call came as finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 economic powers are in Washington for two days of talks on the sidelines of the annual spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The G20 agenda is expected to tackle how to advance an initiative on banking transparency and the sharing of banking information for tax purposes, an effort launched by the United States to give countries the ability to tax a citizens’ wealth held offshore.

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