IPEF members resolve to cooperate in combating corruption, seizing proceeds of crime under proposed pact

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (PTI) India, the US, and 12 other IPEF members have announced conclusion of talks for a proposed free economy agreement under which they resolved to cooperate for combating corruption and seizing proceeds of crime.

The 14 members of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework For Prosperity Partner (IPEF) grouping announced the conclusion of talks for the proposed fair economy agreement in San Francisco last week.

According to the joint statement from Indo-Pacific Economic Framework For Prosperity Partner (IPEF) nations, under the IPEF Fair Economy Agreement, the countries are committed to working together to enhance transparency, and accountability in their economies to improve the trade and investment environment in the Indo-Pacific region.

To achieve these goals, under the proposed agreement, they would work to enhance efforts to prevent and combat corruption and support efforts to improve tax transparency and the exchange of information.

The member countries would "adopt or maintain measures enabling the identification, tracing, freezing, seizure, and confiscation in criminal or civil proceedings of proceeds of crime, consistent with the UN's Convention against Corruption, and other actions to promote transparency and accountability in the return and disposition of recovered proceeds of crime, and strengthen international cooperation on asset recovery," the statement said.

An official said India's "offensive ask in this agreement is to facilitate asset recovery of crime proceeds".

The joint statement said the members under the proposed pact would resolve to promote the active participation of the private sector to prevent and combat corruption and encourage the private sector to implement internal controls, and compliance programmes that contribute to preventing and detecting corruption.

They would also look at addressing gaps in their respective legal and operational frameworks to prevent money laundering and meet the standards set out in Financial Action Task Force recommendations regarding transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons, including those relating to government procurement, and take concrete actions to prevent corrupt actors from funneling the proceeds of their corruption into partners' real estate markets.

Under the proposed pact, the countries would establish a new Capacity Building Framework (CBF) to enhance each other's capabilities to effectively implement all aspects of the pact.

"The IPEF partners would also hold annual coordination meetings on anti-corruption, labour, and tax to discuss implementation of commitments, challenges in implementation," it added.

IPEF was launched jointly by the US and other partner countries of the Indo-Pacific region on May 23 last year in Tokyo. Together, they account for 40 per cent of the world's economic output and 28 per cent of trade.

The framework is structured around four pillars relating to trade, supply chains, clean economy and fair economy (issues such as tax and anti-corruption). India has joined all the pillars except the trade.

Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the US, and Vietnam are members of the bloc.

The member countries will now undertake the necessary steps, including further domestic consultations and a legal review, to prepare the final texts of the agreement.

Once finalised, the proposed agreement will be subject to IPEF partners' domestic processes for signature, followed by ratification, acceptance, or approval. PTI RR CS TRB

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