Interesting….

Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, has siphoned as much as $9bn out of his impoverished country, and much of it may be stashed in London banks, according to secret US diplomatic cables that recount conversations with the chief prosecutor of the international criminal court.

Sudan is exporting enough oil that such a sum could have been skimmed off the top. And no doubt ritchie and friends will be telling us that this is the reason why we\’ve got to have country by country reporting: so that such slimming can be seen.

But of course country by country reporting only works on the companies doing the production or the buying of the oil. When money has been handed over to the Government then there is no such disclosure. So an authoritarian thug would still be able to dip his fingers in hte till just as it is alleged that he is already doing.

In fact, we can go further. Country by country reporting would simply reveal to such authoritarian thugs who was making money where: and thus, whose tills fingers could be dipped into.

It\’s one of the things that\’s so annoying about that whole worldview over there: this assumption that if only tax money gets to governments then everything will be just fine. No recognition at all that for most of the poorer parts of the world it\’s governments that are the problem, not the solution.

5 thoughts on “Interesting….”

  1. I think you’re wrong on two counts here:

    1) It’s easier for corrupt officials to get companies to bribe them personally than it is to directly steal money from the treasury (and it’s not at all clear from the Wikileaks cable which of these Bashir’s money mostly comes from)

    2) Crooked governments *already know* who’s making money where – they’re in the multinational’s tax accounts for that country, and in the local subsidiary’s filed accounts for that country.

    More to the point on why country-by-country reporting wouldn’t help in this case – if the bribes haven’t primarily been paid by Chinese oil companies, who couldn’t care less about worldwide public opinion, then I’m the King of France.

  2. No recognition at all that for most of the poorer parts of the world it’s governments that are the problem, not the solution.

    I think you overqualify that. Most of the richer parts of the world have much the same problem (if slightly less grotesquely enriching for the scum floating to the top.)

  3. No recognition at all that for most of the poorer parts of the world it’s governments that are the problem, not the solution.

    It’s obvious that governments can be both. As can private sector companies of course. The way to make sure people behave properly is to increase the chance of them getting caught when they don’t — which is why Wikileaks is overall a good thing for humanity.

  4. Phil is right. Particularly as in Africa, we have a clear example of a state which doesn’t have a corrupt (or indeed any) government – and it’s currently the worst place to live in the entire continent.

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