“No safe haven”: denying entry
to the corrupt as a new
Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Purpose – This paper aims to provide an overview of the “no safe haven” anti-corruption commitment
recently announced by the G20. The essence of this approach lies in denying entry to individuals
reasonably believed to be complicit in massive corruption.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper is based on the analysis of international legal
instruments and relevant domestic legislation (US statutes, in particular the Magnitsky Act 2012), as
well as on scholarly discussions.
Findings – Proceeding from the analysis of deciencies in the current anti-money laundering regime,
this paper makes an argument in favour of adoption of the “no safe haven” policy as a legal standard in
anti-corruption cooperation, rather than a voluntary initiative.
Practical implications – The adoption by states of the approach advocated in this paper will
strengthen, or so it is submitted, the international anti-corruption regime. Importantly, it will help curb
impunity of those who are shielded from investigation and prosecution in their home countries.
Originality/value – This paper considers basic legal and policy arguments that support the “no safe
haven” anti-corruption policy. Due to the novelty of this approach and the dearth of academic literature
on this topic, this may be a valuable contribution to the current anti-corruption discussions.
Keywords Human rights, Corruption, Money laundering, Denying entry
Paper type Conceptual paper
As cross-border ow of nance and people becomes increasingly easy, politicians and
executives from impoverished countries set the trends of luxurious lifestyle in major
world capitals. The veil of mystery that surrounds some of these new fortunes,
especially those amassed by public ofcials whose declared income hardly matches
their expenses, can raise suspicions. The issue acquires a legal dimension as
international and domestic anti-money laundering regulations come into play (FATF,
2013). They aim at precluding transfers of “suspect funds”, i.e. alleged crime proceeds
(De Willebois et al., 2011).
There are, however, inadequacies in preventing the ow of “dirty” money.
Individuals who benet from organized crime, or even are complicit in massive human
rights abuse in their home countries, manage to evade nancial control (US Senate,
2010). They further reside in developed countries where they enjoy security and
protection of law.
The impunity of corrupt ofcials is an essential aspect to this phenomenon. The
link between corruption and other forms of crime, as well as the damaging effect of
corruption on “the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice”,
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.18 No. 4, 2015
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited