Anti-corruption summit: Who is going and what's on the agenda

Will David Cameron's conference be genuinely game-changing or a hypocrites' ball?

Anti-corruption summit
Patricia Scotland, the secretary general of the Commonwealth, chats to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of the summit
(Image credit: Leon Neal - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

David Cameron is hosting an international summit aiming to expose and tackle corruption around the world.

It has the potential to be "genuinely game-changing", says Dr Dan Hough, the director of the Sussex Centre for the Study of Corruption. "But, as with all these things, the devil will be in the detail," he writes in the New Statesman.

Others warn today's event could be overshadowed by the PM's diplomatic gaffe on Tuesday, when he said that some "fantastically corrupt" countries – namechecking Nigeria and Afghanistan in particular - would be attending.

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Who is going?

Representatives from more than 40 nations will join business leaders, campaigners and a diverse range of anti-corruption experts at Lancaster House, London.

"Cameron has invited all 20 member states within the G20, including Russia, Brazil and South Africa – three countries mired in corruption allegations," says The Guardian.

There will, however, be some notable absences. Despite the recent leak of millions of documents exposing the scale of offshore tax avoidance, Panama will not be sending delegates to the summit. "The British Virgin Islands has also been left off Downing Street's invitation list," says The Independent.

As the global ramifications from the Panama Papers rumble on, the Prime Minister is coming under increasing pressure to crack down on UK-administered tax havens.

What's on the agenda?

No 10 says delegates will "commit to taking practical steps to tackle the problem and make it a genuine global priority" by signing the first ever global declaration against corruption.

As well as addressing issues of financial secrecy, one of the key proposals will be the establishment of an international anti-corruption body to assist law enforcement agencies in addressing money laundering and tax evasion.

The summit will also make a "big play" to start tackling the so-called facilitators of corruption, says Hough in the New Statesman. "The UK government is keen to force the lawyers and the accountants, the bankers and the estate agents to conduct due diligence on where money comes from."

Will anything meaningful be agreed?

There is a real danger that the summit will "turn out to be a hypocrites' ball, the dance floor crowded with kleptocrats posing as clean-up crusaders", says Roger Boyes, the diplomatic editor of The Times.

"A conversation about corruption has to be both global and local," he adds. "It has to examine and expose networks of power and business, not just in Africa but in China, south-east Asia, Russia and, yes, in the City of London and New York too."

Hough also highlights the risk that the summit will simply declare that its agreements should be implemented, but with no obligation to do so. "International summitry is a world full of communiques that soon disappear down to the second or third pages of a Google search," he says.

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