Businesses, Individuals Pay over $1tn in Bribes Annually, Says World Bank

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Bennett Oghifo and Peter Uzoho

Businesses and individuals pay more than $1 trillion in bribes each year, Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has quoted a World Bank report as saying.

According to Guterres, the World Economic Forum also estimated that the cost of corruption is at least $2.6 trillion-or five per cent of global gross domestic product.

Guterres stated these in his message released yesterday on International Anti-Corruption Day.

Also in a statement issued yesterday on Human Rights Day, the Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, urged the global community to restore human dignity, saying: “If we are to stand up for equality, justice and human dignity for all, we must also stop those who would rob people of their rights, and who threaten peace and sustainable development.”

Guterres said corruption begets more corruption, and fosters a corrosive culture of impunity.

According to him, “Corruption is present in all countries, whether rich or poor, North or South. It is an assault on the values of the United Nations.

“It robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources.

“It undermines the rule of law and abets crimes such as the illicit trafficking of people, drugs and arms. Tax evasion, money laundering and other illicit flows divert much-needed resources for sustainable development.”

He said the UN Convention against Corruption was among the world body’s primary tools for advancing the fight, adding that Sustainable Development Goal 16 and its targets also offer a template for action.

“Through the convention’s peer review mechanism, we can work together to build a foundation of trust and accountability. We can educate and empower citizens, promote transparency and strengthen international cooperation to recover stolen assets.

“Millions of people around the world have gone to the ballots this year with corruption as one of their top priorities. On International Anti-Corruption Day, let us take a stand for integrity,” he said.

Also, the Executive Director, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, said the global community must stop those who engaged in “human traffickers and migrant smugglers who treat human beings as commodities; organised criminal groups trafficking deadly drugs and weapons; terrorists who kill indiscriminately and enslave women, men and children.

“The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, the United Nations Convention against Corruption, the international drug control conventions, the global counter-terrorism instruments and the United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice represent an essential framework to tackle threats, stop violence, ensure access to justice, promote health and sustainable development and make the world safer.”