Rich nations are the real beneficiaries of the "boom industry" of global corruption that is making the world's poor even poorer - writes Kim Cain from Melbourne, Australia.
That is the central finding of a new report, "From Corruption to Good Governance", about global bribery and malpractice, by the Uniting Church in Australia.
The report calls for an all-out attack on tax havens that, it asserts, help wealthy individuals and businesses prosper at the expense of the poor.
The UCA publication, launched recently in Canberra, states that global corruption is a one-thousand-billion US dollar industry, with international tax havens responsible for an estimated US$225 billion loss to world tax revenues.
Mark Zirnsak, a co-author of the report, told Ecumenical News International that contrary to popular opinion it is not always the poor nations of the world that are the most corrupt.
"Although corruption occurs in most poor nations, it is big business and the wealthy of the world who are usually fostering and benefiting from that corruption at the expense of the poor," said Zirnsak.
"Some wealthy countries actively foster corruption, reward it and seek to benefit from it. The rich are the secret and usually unnoticed players in the global corruption game, and yet they always come out as the winners," he said.
The report claims many rich nations have been slow to act on bribery in developing countries.
It notes criticism of the British government by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for failing to act on corruption because of the possible impact on Britain's economy or its relations with other states.
There has not been a single prosecution of a UK company for bribery of a public official in a developing country, the report states.
It claims the previous conservative Australian government, voted out in 2007, "failed to take much action as Iraqis were cheated out of billions of dollars of oil revenue by mismanagement and corruption within the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority".
It adds that Australia, now with a centre-left government, "could also be doing more at the global level" to address tax competition, tax havens, tax evasion, and the promotion of international standards to combat corruption and promote good governance.
"Breaking the poverty cycle means breaking the corruption cycle," Zirnsak said. "This is a much more sophisticated approach involving a shift from a culture of corruption to a culture of good governance."
Read the report in PDF format: http://victas.uca.org.au/main.php?pg=download&id=219239
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]