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Trillion Dollar Scandal
Extreme poverty around the world has been cut in half over the last 20 years and has a possibility of being completely eradicated by the year 2030. However, the ground that is being gained toward a better tomorrow is being threatened by what some are calling the “Trillion Dollar Scandal.”

A recent report released by the ONE campaign revealed that money is being stolen from developing countries. How? That is a great question. As the report details in depth, ONE has found that through a variety of unethical means, there have been “shady deals for natural resources, the use of anonymous shell companies, money laundering and illegal tax evasion.”

ONE’s studies show that $20 trillion is being held offshore, with $3.2 trillion being withheld from poor countries. Since a trillion sounds just like a big number to most of us, how much is it, really? A stack of one trillion one dollar bills would be 67,866 miles high or about one-third of the way to the moon. Multiply that by three. The amount money that is annually being taken from our poorest countries in the world is truly staggering.

While these estimates are jarring, they do not take into account international aid that is being given to these countries. The stolen money is coming out of their own economies, making fighting poverty ten times more difficult. ONE estimates that as many as 3.6 million deaths in the world’s poorest countries could be prevented each year if this scandal is put to an end by world leaders.

Illegal manipulation of cross-border trade is the biggest source of economic loss for poor countries. If the right steps are taken to end this Trillion Dollar Scandal, ONE suggests the money should go back and be invested in health systems and education. The money stolen from these countries could educate 10 million more children a year, provide around 165 million vaccines and help put an end to preventable child deaths.

Focused on a way to end this, ONE is hoping to get the word out before the upcoming G20 leaders meeting in November. The G20 is currently highlighting economic growth as its number one objective. Clearly though, without putting a stop to the money being stolen from poor countries, economic progress will be impossible.

ONE suggests a four step plan: first, shine light on anonymous companies. Second, publish what you pay. Third, crack down on tax evasion. Fourth, publish government data. To learn more or get involved with spreading the word to the G20, visit their website.

– Brooke Smith

Sources: ONE 1, ONE 2, The Guardian
Photo: OxFam