UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 (APP):The President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, has called for targeting loopholes in the global financial structures and institutions that allow illicit financial transactions, posing big socio-economic challenges to developing countries.

“As a first step existence of ‘safe havens’ that receive such illicit money must be dismantled,” he said in his opening remarks at the virtual launching ceremony of the Final Report of the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Development Agenda (FACTI Panel).

Noting that every year trillions of dollars flow out of developing countries due to the activities of criminals, corrupt politicians and officials as well as tax evaders, the Pakistani envoy said that the fact it was taking place during the time of economic recession, triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, was nothing short of criminal.

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Ambassador Akram said if these flows were halted, and the stolen assets returned, the developing countries would be able to meet the estimated $ 4.3 trillion, which they need to recover from the Covid crisis and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“No country can fight this menace alone; it is a systemic problem and requires systemic solution,” ECOSOC chief said.

“I will urge all ‘haven’ countries as a first step to unconditionally and expeditiously return the stolen assets and eliminate the laws and regulations and institutions that enable us to go to safe havens,” adding that enablers of corruption and crimes and illicit flows such as lawyers, accountants, and financial institutions need to be criminalized.

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The ECOSOC chief fully endorsed the panel’s suggestion to create a “value” system that encourages honesty, integrity and transparency in all financial transactions by strengthening policy framework and relevant national and international regulations laws and institutions the panel has provided a framework for action.

“I agree with the panel’s assessment that there is a need for an international pact for implementing financial integrity for sustainable development,” Ambassador Akram said.

He also supported the creation of a forum under the United Nations to coordinate all bodies dealing with various aspects of the illicit financial flows.

As President of the Economic and Social Council, he said he had dedicated a segment of the 2021 financing for development forum on illicit financial flows to consider the 14 recommendations of the FACTI panel.