UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan on Saturday called for stepped up efforts to plug loopholes that impede the international community’s ability to combat illicit financial flows.
Speaking at the high-level meeting on International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows at the United Nations, Pakistan’s ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that the illicit financial flows were a key contributory factor for the economic underperformance of developing countries and a major obstacle to poverty eradication.
“Illicit Financial Flows have a catastrophic impact on societies; they stifle opportunities, deny vulnerable people access to infrastructure, and condemn them to a life of inequality and inequity,” Ambassador Lodhi pointed out.
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She also stated that despite a plethora of institutions and initiatives dealing with illicit financial flows, significant challenges and gaps remain.
“These include lack of an agreed definition; difficulties in reliable measurement due to their disguised nature; increasing use of information and communication technologies and crypto-currencies by criminals; inadequate participation of developing countries in multilateral initiatives and their lack of capacity in combating illicit flows”.
“Other major hurdles include lack of sufficient political will and familiarity with procedural requirements, secrecy, different evidentiary standards, differences in legal procedures, and delays in responding to mutual legal assistance requests,” she added.
The ambassador also argued that capacity constraints and lack of resources to prevent and counter illicit flow of finances was also disproportionally affecting the developing countries.
Quoting estimates by the UN, Ambassador Lodhi said that illicit financial flows, stemming from criminal proceeds, amount to around $2.1 trillion annually.
This, she said, was almost equal to the annual financing gap of 2.5 trillion dollars faced by developing countries in investment in core SDG-related sectors.
Referring to millions of dollars of Pakistan’s stolen financial resources stashed abroad, Ambassador Lodhi said that Pakistan sought international cooperation to complement its intensified domestic efforts.
“My government’s firm resolve against corrupt practices calls for a more proactive role by our partners, in line with international legal instruments including the United Nations Convention Against Corruption”, she concluded.