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An open letter published today, addressed to the G20 leaders in advance of the summit in Brisbane, Australia, calls for the world’s biggest economies to take concrete action to combat corruption by making the global financial system more transparent. The drafting of the letter has been driven by Transparency International.

Twenty-four leaders of civil society representing every continent, including two Nobel laureates, have joined forces to urge global leaders meeting at the G20 summit on 15 and 16 November to take decisive steps to stop the more than one-trillion dollars of illicit money that is siphoned off each year that could be used to alleviate poverty and better the lives of millions.

Several prominent South Africans are among the signatories of the letter. Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel laureate, Desmond Tutu, chairperson of the board of Corruption Watch, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane, and former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Richard Goldstone, have added their voices to the campaign, initiated by Transparency International.

As the letter states:

“When a global financial system allows billions of dollars of corrupt or stolen money to flow unchecked around the globe, something is wrong. When financial secrecy helps strip Africa of $50-billion each year, something is wrong. When the poor of this world see the wealth of their countries slip beyond their borders, something must be done.”

The campaign's three goals are to have all countries, starting with the members of the G20, introduce measures to

  • Oblige the disclosure of the beneficial owners of trusts and companies so as to limit the use of secrecy mechanisms as means of hiding the proceeds of corruption, tax evasion and other criminal activities;
  • Regulate the sale of luxury goods such as high-end property and jewelry to prevent purchases of these costly assets being used as means of laundering dirty money;
  • Use visa denials in order to prevent the corrupt from enjoying the fruits of their ill-gotten gains.

This coming together of anti-corruption activists, humanitarian organisations and individuals with ethical and moral authority is a powerful demonstration to world leaders that there is a common belief across continents and constituencies that specific actions can limit corruption and illegal activities if governments make them a priority.

In the push to deliver growth in the global economy, a major objective of the G20, the signatories are reminding world leaders to put people at the centre of decision-making for sustainable and inclusive development.  “Lest we forget: the primary victims of organised crime, corruption, and tax evasion or avoidance are the poorest citizens of the world.”

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: “We urge South Africans to support these demands by calling upon our government to introduce these measures necessary to unmask the corrupt.”

The initiative coincides with a social media campaign, organised by Transparency International, to send more than two-million tweets to the G20 leaders for its Unmask the Corrupt campaign.

Download the press release as a PDF.

*The full list of signatories, in alphabetical order:

Raymond W. Baker, president of Global Financial Integrity; Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International; John Christensen, director of Tax Justice Network; Rev. Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia and chairperson of the Civil 20 (C20);  Jamie Drummond, co-founder of The ONE Campaign; Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge; Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC, chancellor of the Australian National University; Matthew Frost, CEO of Tearfund; Robert Glasser, secretary-general of CARE International; John Githongo, CEO of Inuka Kenya Nisisi Ltd and former permanent secretary for governance and ethics, Office of the President of Kenya; Richard Goldstone, retired justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa;Manzoor Hasan, chairperson of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) Coalition; Gavin Hayman, executive director of Global Witness; Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Women Journalists Without Chains; Daniel Kaufmann, president of the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI); Caroline Kende-Robb, executive director of Africa Progress Panel; Akaash Maharaj, executive director of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption; Loretta Minghella, CEO of Christian Aid; Alvin Mosioma, chairperson of the Financial Transparency Coalition; Archbishop Njongo Ndungane, president and founder of African Monitor; Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International; Oriana Suárez, Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights; Cobus de Swardt, MD of Transparency International; Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town; Jasmine Whitbread, CEO of Save the Children.

Media contact:

David Lewis
Cell: 082 576 3748

Moira Campbell
Cell: 083 995 4711



Several prominent South Africans are among the 24 distinguished signatories of an open letter addressed to G20 leaders as they prepare for the Brisbane summit. The letter calls for the world’s biggest economies to take concrete action to combat corruption by making the global financial system more transparent.
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