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ECOSOC: FFD - Illicit Financial Flows

Statement by State Secretary Aksel Jakobsen at the 2021 ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development, 'Walking the talk on Illicit Financial Flows: Actions to achieve tangible progress', 15 April 2021.

Thank you for the opportunity to address this important topic here with you today. It is encouraging to see the growing realization that illicit financial flows represent a major threat to development. Illicit financial flows drain enormous resources away from development. These sums far surpass the amounts of ODA flowing into developing countries.

Siphoning off resources by illicit means not only slows development. It deepens inequalities, undermines our democracies as tax-paying citizens lose confidence in their elected leaders and become disillusioned with public institutions. Law-abiding companies find they are not competing on a level playing field.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how illicit flows further exacerbate these challenges:

As long as a shadow financial system continues to exist, the whole fabric of society will be affected. As long as corruption and deception are rewarded with wealth and prosperity, we are bound to fail in our goal of leaving no-one behind. As long as secrecy and misuse of power persist, markets will fail, and democracies will not thrive.

We simply must plug that drain.

To this end, Norway in its capacity as ECOSOC President last year launched a High-Level Panel on Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI panel) together with the President of the General Assembly. The FACTI-report was launched in February and provides interesting food for thought on how the international community could be more effective in tackling illicit financial flows. Norway is currently considering the report’s recommendations. We urge others to do the same.

I am convinced that the issue of illicit financial flows will be central to financing for development in the years to come and that we need strong international cooperation to tackle the challenge. Our efforts should recognize and build on the ongoing work of existing mechanisms in international institutional and legal frameworks, such as in the OECD and UNODC, as well as in global financial institutions.

I believe that continued attention to preventing corruption and illicit flows by all actors will produce results. Norway remains committed. I look forward to working with you all to achieve our common goal of plugging the drain.