The first worldwide anti-corruption summit, that will see international leaders from major countries gathering in London on Thursday, 12 May, has already run into controversy, as it was revealed that two major tax havens - Panama and British Virgin Islands - have not been invited to the inaugural global meeting.
Both Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) were closely linked to the Panama Papers scandal, where 11 million documents leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the names and company details of those with offshore investments situated in so-called tax havens. A second set of documents is set to be leaked to the press.
The Panama government told The Times that it would not be attending the summit at Lancaster House in London, because it had not received an invitation. The British Virgin Islands also said that it had not been invited.
There are mixed views on whether both countries should have been invited to the summit. Robert Palmer, the campaign leader at Global Witness, said: "We think any country or territory that is obviously part of this problem should also be part of the solution."
However, Transparency International's Maggie Murphy warned that countries with poor records on corruption may water down the summit's agenda. "If Panama has not been invited, perhaps it is because of their stated interest in tackling corruption is not yet convincing enough," Murphy said.
Orlando Smith, the Prime Minister of the BVI, said that his country operated a robust system of regulation and that the "well-established jurisdiction has been dragged through the mud following the release of the Panama Papers."
The summit will bring together leaders of various countries who have committed to tackle corruption in their respective territories, including Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The US Secretary of State, John Kerry, will be attending, although The Times noted that Russia will only send its Deputy Foreign Minister, Oleg Syromolotov, to the summit.
Low expectations for the summit
The newspaper said that expectations on the outcome of the summit are low. It quotes sources as saying that the main importance of the summit is that it is the "first gathering of international leaders where the single issue on the table is exposing and fighting corruption."
At the end of the summit, an anti-corruption declaration is expected to be agreed on and a communique issued. The Times noted that the wording of the communique has already been diluted and that it is still under negotiations. In addition, there will be a checklist of commitments for leaders to sign, which will state what additional actions they will undertake to fight corruption in their countries.
The summit, according to a government announcement, will deal with issues such as corporate secrecy, government transparency, the enforcement of international anti-corruption laws and the strengthening of international institutions. The summit will be preceded by a conference on 11 May for leaders in civil society, business and government who are championing the fight against corruption.