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The G20 Pledge to Promote Integrity in Responding to the Global Pandemic

Denisse Rudich, Director, G20 Research Group London

The Riyadh Summit Leaders' Declaration highlighted the need to promote global integrity in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. To that end, the leaders made several commitments in the areas of anti-corruption, anti-money laundering (AML), counter the financing of terrorism (CFT) and tax evasion in the section on "Building a Resilient and Long-Lasting Recovery."


G20 leaders indicated that they would continue to "lead by example in the global fight against corruption." They welcomed Saudi Arabia joining the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Working Group on Bribery. They also welcomed the G20 anti-corruption ministerial meeting, held just a few weeks before the summit, which was the first time the issue of corruption had been elevated to ministerial level. And they welcomed the Riyadh Initiative for Enhancing International Anti-Corruption Law Enforcement Cooperation. Leaders endorsed the G20 Call to Action on Corruption and COVID-19, which recognized corruption as a threat to immediate responses to the pandemic and to long-term recovery. They endorsed initiatives developed for the anti-corruption ministerial meeting including:

The G20 committed to a multi-stakeholder approach by working with actors in the public and private sectors, media, civil society and international organizations. With regards to measuring progress made against past commitments, the leaders welcomed the new method adopted by the Saudi presidency in the G20 Anti-corruption Accountability Report to provide a detailed overview of progress made and identify key challenges in a small number of selected areas as opposed to a more general overview of all topics.

The G20 also pledged to take steps to criminalize foreign bribery and enforce foreign bribery legislation in line with article 16 of United Nations Convention against Corruption by 2021. Leaders hinted at "possible adherence by all G20 countries" to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention by 2021.

Money Laundering

In the area of money laundering, G20 leaders expressed support for the recommendations made in the report of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on COVID-19-Related Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing: Risks and Policy Responses. These recommendations include the need to:

The leaders further recognized that although technological innovations could benefit the financial system and economy, they must remain vigilant to risks. To that end, the G20 welcomed the reports on stablecoins by the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the FATF and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The G20 declaration clearly stated that "no so-called 'global stablecoins'" should operate until all legal, regulatory and oversight requirements have been properly designed and addressed.

The G20 reaffirmed its support for the FATF, including strengthening the network of FATF-style regional bodies, and reiterated its commitment to tackle money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing. Leaders called for the "full, effective and swift implementation" of the FATF's 40 Recommendations and welcomed their adoption of the risk-based approach to proliferation financing.

Tax Evasion

A very small portion of the declaration was devoted to tax evasion. G20 leaders welcomed progress on implementing tax transparency standards and on the automatic exchange of information as well as base erosion profit shifting. These areas are essential in tackling tax evasion and exploitation of tax practices to minimize profit in higher tax jurisdictions.

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Denisse RudichDenisse Rudich is Director of the London office of the G7 and G20 Research Groups and founder of Rudich Advisory. She has held various positions in financial crime prevention, including head of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing policy at RBS and as strategic advisor to Rabobank. She has served with the World Economic Forum's Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime, set up the first global AML/CFT working group for the crypto industry, advises the Sentry, and acts as a technical expert to the Joint Working Group of InterVASP Messaging Standards.

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