Nations make anti-corruption vows, but hard action varies
International politicians and diplomats vowed yesterday to open up corporate records, quash money laundering and end bribery in a bid to stamp out what Prime Minister David Cameron called the global "cancer" of corruption.
But concrete results of a London anti-corruption summit were mixed, with many countries failing to commit to the toughest actions sought by Cameron.
Heads of state, ministers and diplomats from some 40 countries said they would "uncover corruption wherever it exists, and to pursue and punish those who perpetrate, facilitate or are complicit in it."
The governments made a plethora of promises: to fight bribery in public contracting and the oil and gas sector, to return stolen assets to their owners, and to clean up international sports.
Firm commitments, however, varied widely. Just six countries, including Britain, Nigeria and Afghanistan, agreed to publish registers of who really owns companies in their territories, a key goal of anti-corruption groups. Six more said they would "explore doing so".
The United States did not make that commitment, although Secretary of State John Kerry told the conference that a "pandemic" of corruption "is as much of an enemy because it destroys nation states, as some of the extremists we're fighting".
Yesterday's meeting at London's elegant Lancaster House drew politicians from around the world, including the presidents of Afghanistan, Nigeria and Colombia, as well as representatives of financial institutions and civil-society organisations.