Combatting Illicit Financial Flows

Statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Jens Frølich Holte at High-level meeting on International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Return, 16 May 2019.

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Madam President, distinguished delegates,

Norwegian engagement in the issue of illicit financial flows is consistent and now spans more than a decade. During that period we have seen increasing interest among the international community to understand the effects of, and solutions to, the illicit flows. The fact that we are meeting for this first ever UN High-Level meeting dedicated to illicit financial flows is therefore heartening and promising.

Another welcome advancement for the international community is that the General Assembly is now adopting a resolution on international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows on an annual basis.

The problem of illicit financial flows is a global concern. It is an issue that requires international cooperation for any real progress, and it is an issue that is prone to a host of collective action problems. Precisely the type problem that belongs in these chambers.

Madam President,

While it is pertinent to pause for a moment and pat ourselves on the back for these developments, we may not do so for long. The problem of illicit financial flows are increasing, not diminishing – at the cost of ordinary people’s lives, free enterprise and the very fabric of society itself.

The Financing for Sustainable Development Report, released before the FFD-Forum in April, was a dramatic wake-up call. We are not on track to finance our common global ambitions. And a significant part of the challenge lies in the leakages from the financing process.

Norway stands ready to join forces with any and all of this membership to ensure that we at every turn in the UN’s calendar look for opportunities to build on the momentum for curtailing illicit financial flows.

Time-and-time again we have seen that civil society has been instrumental in pushing concrete solutions to the problem. We must encourage that engagement to continue.

We will do our part. We are early adopters of global standards to avoid illicit financial flows. We will soon launch a beneficial ownership registry. We have implemented one of the world’s most comprehensive country-by-country reporting systems. We exchange tax information on request with 144 countries.

Globally we are aiming to reach, and indeed over-shoot our Addis Tax Initiative commitment one year ahead of time, and we contribute to the work of the World Bank, the OECD, the IMF and the UN in building capacity in partner countries.

However, we are eager to see much more consistent high-level debates and engagement on the issue in an UN-setting. We must pull the load together. There are many champions among us, so let us use this momentum to make the UN the arena where these high-level debates about this high-impact problem takes place.

I thank you.