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SA should lead global campaign to establish International Anti-Corruption Court — Peter Hain

SA should lead global campaign to establish International Anti-Corruption Court — Peter Hain
British Labour Lord Peter Hain. (Photo: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images)

South Africa should be leading this campaign because of the high levels of corruption here, British Lord Peter Hain says.

South Africa should take the lead in establishing an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) to bring not only public officials but also those who pay bribes and those who launder stolen funds to book, British Lord Peter Hain said in a lecture at the University of Cape Town last week.

“The IACC will prosecute not only corrupt public officials, but also those who pay the bribes and those who launder the stolen funds – bankers, lawyers, accountants, real estate agents and other financial service providers – many of whom are based in the financial centres of the Global North,” he added. 

Hain noted that more than a year ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa had promised, in response to the findings of the Zondo Commission, that “there will be no place for corrupt people, for criminal networks, for perpetrators of State Capture to hide”.

“Yet, numerous individuals responsible for various aspects of State Capture continue to sit at senior levels in Ramaphosa’s ANC, including in his Cabinet,” Hain remarked.

“Corruption continues at every level of government in South Africa. There is an absence of political will and insufficient resources for public agencies investigating suspicious procurement practices.” 

Read more in Daily Maverick: It takes two to tango – Businesses have also been culpable in dishonesty, looting and bringing SA to its knees

A growing number of South African opinion formers was backing an IACC “because of all the countries in the world South Africa should be leading the campaign to establish an IACC”, he added. 

In Hain’s audience were former Constitutional Court judges Albie Sachs and Richard Goldstone who are founding signatories of the global campaign for an IACC, which Hain is leading. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: International Anti-Corruption Court needed now to clamp down on global white-collar crime

He said former presidents, prime ministers, Nobel laureates, legal experts and countries such as Canada, Ecuador, Moldova, the Netherlands, Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as the European Parliament, UK Labour’s Shadow Foreign Minister David Lammy and more than 300 jurists, had backed the initiative so far.

Majorities of the populations of all the BRICS and G7 countries were also in favour, including 78% of respondents in South Africa and 73% in the UK, Hain said. 

Money stolen through corruption every year is enough to feed the world’s hungry 80 times over.

“Corruption has reached alarming proportions, with money laundering alone causing global annual losses of $1.6-trillion,” he added.

More than $7-trillion of private wealth was being held in secretive offshore accounts – the equivalent of 10% of global gross domestic product (GDP)

“Money stolen through corruption every year is enough to feed the world’s hungry 80 times over,” he said. 

Yet impunity for grand corruption was thriving in many countries because kleptocrats controlled the administration of justice.  

The Pandora Papers, released in 2021 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), had revealed the hidden finances of more than 330 politicians, including 35 then-current and former heads of state, showing how they exploited both domestic and international networks to enrich themselves, often at the cost of their citizens. 

This exposé followed the ICIJ’s leaks of the Panama and Paradise papers which had also provided evidence of widespread corruption. These leaders had covertly transferred their illicit wealth abroad through the international banking system. 

Hain said Ray Baker of Global Financial Integrity had estimated that developing countries lose more than 10 times in illicit financial outflows due to corruption than they receive in foreign aid.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Putting an end to kleptocracy and recovering the assets stolen by corrupt leaders

There was a net outflow even when private investment and military assistance were factored in, Baker had suggested. This was particularly true for Africa, with permanent annual outflows likely exceeding $100-billion a year – constituting around a quarter of the continent’s GDP, and making Africa in all probability a net creditor to the rest of the world. “In other words, it is not always the rich supporting the poor; often it is the poor supporting the rich,” Baker wrote.

And Hain said southern Africa in particular would be performing far better for its citizens were it not for brazen corruption by politicians and their business cronies. 

State Capture under former president Zuma and the Gupta brothers had erased one-fifth of South Africa’s GDP. 

Corrupt leaders like Zuma had looted public funds with the help of global corporations and banks, many household names and most based in New York and London. 

“I have detailed in the House of Lords how Bain & Co, McKinsey, KPMG, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Baroda Bank actively aided the looters in South Africa, the money often flowing through the notorious money laundering hubs Dubai and Hong Kong,” Hain said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Peter Hain again refuses to meet Bain until ‘full state capture disclosure’

In Angola, former president José dos Santos and his associates had embezzled billions from the public treasury and his daughter Isabel had become Africa’s wealthiest woman. Meanwhile, 53% of Angolans lived on less than $2.15 a day.

Some corrupt Angolan officials had invested their illicitly acquired riches in the real estate market in London – “London, of course, being infamous for money laundering by oligarchs and others, despite the pious rhetoric of UK ministers who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk”.

And Hain said Namibia was gearing up for its largest corruption trial to date, the “Fishrot Files” case of extensive government corruption.

In Zimbabwe, Al Jazeera’s 2023 “Gold Mafia” investigation exposed an intricate scheme of money laundering and gold smuggling, involving senior government ministers and officials, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Yet more than 40% of Zimbabweans live in extreme poverty.

“The UK is a prominent player in facilitating global corruption, with funds illicitly channelled and hidden in UK offshore havens. Almost £88-billion is laundered through the UK annually,” Hain said. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Heerin Poonee says:

    While great in theory this may just be a way for another group to get a piece of the illicit pie through more bribes.
    I have lost faith in humanity’s ability to rectify this.
    And if the bribe fails, “plata o plomo” 😓

  • Ben Harper says:

    Great laugh to start the week!

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    No Lord Hain, Cyril and his cabinet are far too busy to serve their masters. These are :
    Greed, Hamas/Iran and Putin.

    There will never be a wholesale effort to fight and prosecute corruption and fraud perpetrators. Faaarrr too many comrades will end up in jail. Let the comrades eat.

  • Dominic Rooney says:

    Once a twerp, always a twerp.

  • Bob Kuhn says:

    Appointing a thieving fox to adjudicate the slaughter in the henhouse has to be Hain’s best act of treachery.

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