Mr Burkhalter warned of corruption’s damaging impact on societies at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, outlining how it permeates through them like a deadly disease, inflicting the greatest harm on the weakest members of society. Developing countries are deprived of USD 40,000 to USD 75,000 in illicitly obtained assets every minute: “That is money lacking for schools, hospitals, welfare services, development and the population,” he said.
Mr Burkhalter emphasised that efforts aimed at eliminating the causes of corruption must therefore be a priority. Switzerland is working towards ensuring participation, transparency, a sense of responsibility, equality and non-discrimination in many countries. This approach seeks to contribute towards reducing susceptibility to corruption. The priorities of the Federal Council’s Dispatch on International Cooperation 2017–20 also include engagement in the field of good governance.
Freezing, confiscation and restitution of the illicit assets of politically exposed persons
Switzerland focuses in particular on the illicitly obtained assets of politically exposed persons abroad as part of the fight against corruption. Switzerland has created an internationally recognised instrument for comprehensively freezing, confiscating and restituting such assets with its new Foreign Illicit Assets Act. Switzerland has ensured the successful restitution of around USD 1.8 billion in such assets to the respective countries of origin over the past 20 years.
Switzerland is also calling for transparency over the owners and economic beneficiaries of companies and other legal constructs, such as trusts. The provisions of international institutions – such as GAFI (Groupe d’action financière) and the Global Forum – on transparency and the exchange of information for tax purposes must be implemented effectively to this end.
At the UN, Switzerland also actively supports anti-corruption measures and, for example, plays a leading role in the United Nations Conference against Corruption (UNCAC). It was also invited to the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) this year. In addition, Switzerland maintains anti-corruption dialogue with various states.
Mr Burkhalter also used the Anti-Corruption Summit in London as an opportunity to hold bilateral meetings, including with the UK’s Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and its Europe Minister David Lidington. The representatives of the two countries discussed at length their anti-corruption efforts. This meeting also provided the opportunity for an update on bilateral relations and cooperation in the European and international context, as well as security matters including the situations in Syria, Ukraine and the Middle East, and countering violent extremism. Like the UK, Switzerland has made relations with the European Union and international security challenges foreign policy priorities.
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