The Latest: UN panel says corruption hits the poor hardest

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In this UNTV image, Evariste Ndayishimiye, President of Burundi, speaks in a pre-recorded video message during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, at UN headquarters in New York. The U.N.'s first virtual meeting of world leaders started Tuesday with pre-recorded speeches from heads-of-state, kept at home by the coronavirus pandemic. (UNTV via AP)

TANZANIA – The Latest from the U.N. General Assembly (all times EDT):

8:08 p.m.

A U.N. panel says tax abuse, corruption and money laundering are draining hundreds of billions of dollars from governments that could help the world’s poor.

A report from the high-level panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity published Thursday said governments can’t agree on the problem or the solution. But they're also losing an estimated $500 billion due to corporate tax avoidance from profit-sharing enterprises.

In addition, the panel estimated that $7 trillion in private wealth is hidden in tax haven countries, with 10% of world GDP held offshore, and that money laundering amounts to around $1.6 trillion per year, or 2.7% of global GDP.

“Corruption and tax avoidance are rampant,” said former Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė, a panel co-chair. “Too many banks are in cahoots and too many governments are stuck in the past. We’re all being robbed, especially the world’s poor.”

She said trust in the finance system is essential to tackle global challenges including poverty, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Instead we get dithering and delay bordering on complicity,” Grybauskaitė said.