Monday, November 15, 2010

Investment firm files resolutions on illicit flows

From Harrington Investments:
"Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII), a socially responsible investment advisory firm has filed shareholder resolutions at Citigroup, Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase, calling for the adoption of principles to stem illicit financial transactions which are the result of government corruption and bribery, tax evasion, money laundering, illegal arms deals and the movement of money by drug cartels
It is superb to see the private sector starting to come through on these crucial issues. This is, after all, something that affects reputation and the bottom line, not to mention the billions of human beings whose lives this stuff impacts upon:
"Shareholders, as principals, need to make sure that our agents, corporate executives and bank boards of directors, respond as responsible fiduciaries to protect our banks’ integrity and reputation by developing industry-wide standards."
Heather Lowe, Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for our friends at Global Financial Integrity in Washington, said:
"These resolutions are all about reducing the risk that illicit funds even get to the banks, and if they do, making it easier for banks to identify the bad actors. They are based on recommendations put forward by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations earlier this year and recognize that banks need support in their efforts to root out illicit money. We hope that shareholders also recognize the value of making a bank’s partners part of the solution to this global problem."
Harrington's shareholder resolutions are based around four core principles:
  • That there should be established by governments or other third parties an international, publicly administered database of politically exposed persons so that all financial institutions can access it, and be privy to the same information, to enable consistently rigorous due diligence across the industry.
  • That other actors in financial market transactions, such as realtors and escrow agents, attorneys and their client accounts, should be subject by public policy to strict anti-money laundering safeguards.
  • That all privately held corporations that seek access to US financial markets should be obliged by public policy to disclose the names of natural persons having a substantial economic interest in such entity or exercising de facto control over its policies or operations.
  • That the United States government should implement these principles through its policies, and by advocating for appropriate international mechanisms.
Congratulations to them for blazing this trail.

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