‘White lies’: accountants accused over money laundering

In the survey, carried out by Summit International, a global alliance of accountancy firms, 22% of accountants admitted money laundering is a ‘robust activity or even a key factor’ in their national economy. A further 78% said it was a small operation within their economy. Tax fraud also seems to be common practice, with 65% of respondents saying they believe one-in-four companies worldwide fiddle their taxes.

Combating financial crime is a key issue among the G8 countries. In an interview ahead of the protest-hit G8 summit in Italy this week, Russian president Vladimir Putin revealed his country had just passed legislation toughening rules against money laundering. Anti-globalisation campaigners are pictured above in Naples.

Summit, which has offices in all of the G8 countries, said: ‘Either there are a handful of people at the top who really know what’s going on, or they are playing down the problem in the hope that it’s OK to be just a little bit bent.’

Geoff Barnes, chief executive officer of Summit and partner at Baker Tilly, said: ‘Claims that incidences of serious money laundering in well known hot spots are no different than in Europe seem a bit blinkered.’

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