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Charmian Gooch 談我的願望:開啟商業公開新時代

Charmian Gooch: My wish: To launch a new era of openness in business

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Charmian Gooch

2014年3月演講,2014年3月在TED2014上線

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:朱學恒

簡繁轉換:洪曉慧

後制:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

匿名公司保護貪腐者-從惡名昭彰的販毒集團領導人到聲名狼藉的軍火商-讓他們藏身於迷霧中,幾乎無法追蹤及追究他們的責任。但反貪污運動家Charmian Gooch希望改變這一切。在TED2014中,她分享獲得TED大獎的大膽願望:得知公司持有者及掌控者、改變法律、開啟商業公開新時代。

 

關於Charmian Gooch

「全球見證」共同創辦者Charmian Gooch是2014年TED大獎得主。她的非政府組織揭露了全球性腐敗架構如何將魔掌伸入天然資源的開採及利用。

 

為什麼要聽她演講

Charmian Gooch於1993年與同事Simon Taylor及Patrick Alley共同創辦監督性非政府組織「全球見證」,因應不斷增長之木材及其他非法交易隱密資金戰爭。

 

從那時起,「全球見證」因揭露烏干達的「血鑽石」、剛果的「衝突礦石」、柬埔寨與泰國之間的非法木材交易等佔據頭條版面。藉由探索腐敗企業與政府隱密關聯的獨特專長,「全球見證」持續進行調查,揭露並剷除剝削及衝突的根源。如他們對《每日電訊報》所言:「消費者有權知道他們購買的是什麼東西,以及獲得它的代價。」

 

Gooch榮獲2014年TED大獎(及100萬美元的Skoll社會企業家精神獎)。她獲獎的願望是:得知公司持有者及掌控者、改變法律、開啟商業公開新時代。

 

Charmian Gooch的英語網上資料

Website: GlobalWitness.org

Twitter: @Charmian

Twitter: @Global_Witness

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Charmian Gooch 談我的願望:開啟商業公開新時代

 

我今天想與各位討論一個問題,一個相當簡單、但十分嚴重的問題;一個遍及全球、影響所有人問題。這個問題就是匿名公司。聽起來相當枯燥乏味,不是嗎?但匿名公司使得找出真正負責人變得相當困難、有時甚至不可能,當發生相當嚴重的罪行時。因此為何我要在這裡提出這個問題?好,我想我這輩子注定是個麻煩人物。當父母教我和孿生兄弟質疑權威時,我想他們沒想到可能會有什麼後果(笑聲)。他們或許相當後悔。我處於叛逆的青春期時,可想而知,我老是質疑他們的權威,學校的老師也多半不欣賞這種個性。你知道,大約從五歲開始,我老是問這個問題:為什麼?為什麼地球繞著太陽轉?為什麼血是紅色?為什麼我得上學?為什麼我得尊重老師和權威?但我不曾意識到這個問題會成為我日後一切行動的基礎。因此大約二十多歲時-很久以前了-在倫敦北部某個下雨的週日下午,我與Simon Taylor和Patrick Alley坐在一起,在運動組織辦公室裡忙著裝準備發送的郵件信封,那是我們當時的工作場所。如以往般,我們聊著全球議題,那次我們談的是柬埔寨內戰。我們曾多次談論這個話題,但突然間,我們停止談話,望著彼此,然後說:為何我們不試著改變現狀?從這個有點瘋狂的問題開始,歷經二十年光陰及多次運動,包括向全球警示血鑽石資助戰爭問題。從這個瘋狂的問題開始,「全球見證」現在已成為80人組成的強大團隊,包括運動人士、調查員、記者及律師。我們擁有共同的信念:改變皆有可能。

 

因此「全球見證」到底在做什麼?我們進行調查、提出報告、揭露真正的負責人,針對支持衝突的資金、針對從世界各國人民手中竊取巨額利益者,也就是所謂的國家掠奪;針對環境破壞者,然後藉由鍥而不捨的運動改變體制本身。我們這麼做的原因在於,許多擁有豐富天然資源的國家-例如石油、鑽石、木材-是世上最貧困、最匱乏之人民的家鄉。大部分不公平現象之所以存在,皆因目前認可之商業行為,其中之一就是匿名公司。目前我們已藉由多項調查抵制匿名公司。例如在剛果民主共和國,我們揭露涉及匿名公司的秘密交易如何剝削世上最貧困國家的人民,金額超過十億美元,這是該國健康與教育預算總和的兩倍。在賴比瑞亞,一家掠奪人民的國際伐木公司,藉由幌子公司掠奪賴比瑞亞大片原始林。或馬來西亞沙勞越的政治貪污,導致該國大量森林遭受破壞。好,這也是利用匿名公司。我們偷拍了該國前省長一些家庭成員和一位律師,他們明確地告訴我們的臥底調查員,如何利用匿名公司搞定這些可疑的交易。最糟的是,目前有太多類似情況存在於各行各業,這確實是藏身於不起眼處的天大醜聞。或許是兇殘的墨西哥販毒集團Zetas,他們利用匿名公司洗錢,同時與毒品有關的暴力行為正摧殘美洲各地社區。或有些匿名公司收購美國稅收債權,增加法定費用,然後給屋主一個選擇:付錢或失去房屋。想像一下遭受失去房屋的威脅,有時不過是幾百美元的債務,卻無法找到真正與你對抗的對象。

 

現在匿名公司也很擅長抵制制裁。伊朗政府發現,藉由一連串幌子公司,它可擁有位於曼哈頓第五大道精華區的大樓,儘管美國對伊朗進行制裁。Juicy Couture(名牌服飾,旗艦店位於第五大道)-絲絨運動服的發源地-和其他公司均不知情,不知承租者是誰。類似例子多不勝數:歐洲的馬肉醜聞、義大利黑手黨,他們數十年來一直利用這些公司。一億美元的聯邦醫療保險詐騙案、對全球戰爭的軍火供應,包括90年代早期的東歐戰爭;匿名公司甚至現身於最近的烏克蘭革命中。

 

但除了我們和其他人揭露的案例,由於目前的體制,仍有許多案例不為人知。簡單來說,某些人犯了令人髮指的罪行,竊取屬於你、我及千百萬人的權益。他們隱身幕後、逃避責任、輕易達成目的,利用的就是現行法律體系。這確實相當不公平。好,你或許會問,匿名公司到底是什麼?我真的可以在匿名情況下設立使用嗎?好,答案是:沒錯,你可以。但如果你像我一樣,你會想親自瞭解實際情形,因此我說明一下。好,首先你必須決定想把公司設在哪裡,此時你或許會想到某個迷人的熱帶島嶼避稅天堂。但實際情況是-出人意料地-我的家鄉,倫敦。沒錯,英國是世上最適合設立匿名公司的地方之一。另一個更適合的地方恐怕是美國了。知道嗎?在美國某些州設立一家公司所需的證件,比辦一張借書證還少。例如德拉瓦州,它是世上設立匿名公司最容易的地方之一。

 

好,因此假設在美國,假設在德拉瓦州,現在你只要上網找一家公司服務供應商,它們是能幫助你設立公司的公司。記住,這都是合法、正規的商業操作。因此這是其中一個,但還有很多其他選擇。選好之後,開始選擇你想設立的公司類型,然後填寫聯絡方法、姓名、地址。但不必擔心,不一定得填你的姓名,可填寫你的律師或服務供應商,反正這並非公開資訊。然後添加公司所有人,這是關鍵部分。同樣地,不一定得填你,因為你可發揮創意,因為茫茫人海中有太多代理人可選擇。代理人就是你可合法付錢給他,讓他擔任你公司的所有人。如果你不想牽扯其他人,甚至不需要真有其人,也可填寫另一家公司。最後,替你的公司取個名字,添加一些細節,支付費用,然後服務供應商會花幾個小時處理資料。但就是這樣,十分鐘網購,你就能建立屬於自己的匿名公司。這不僅簡單,相當簡單、廉價,也完全合法。但精彩的還在後頭。也許你想使匿名程度更高。好,這也沒問題,你只需多加幾層關係,讓一家公司持有一家公司。你可藉由遍布世界各國上百間不同公司添加上百層關係,如同一張巨網,每一層都添加了匿名程度,每一層都使執法機關和其他人更難找出真正所有人。但最終獲益的是誰?也許是某家公司或某個人,但我們這些普羅大眾呢?以這種方式濫用公司是否適當甚至不曾掀起全球討論。這對我們來說意味著什麼?

 

好,最近遇見的一個案例令我難以釋懷。那是約十年前布宜諾斯艾利斯夜店發生的一場大火。那是新年前夕,三千名狂歡者,多半是青少年,擠入只能容納一千人的空間,然後悲劇發生:一場突如其來的大火,天花板的塑膠裝飾品逐漸融化,毒煙瀰漫整間夜店,因此人們試著逃跑,卻發現某些逃生門被鐵鍊鎖住了。二百多人喪生,七百人在嘗試逃離時受傷。當受害者家屬、整個城市及國家仍處於震驚中時,調查員試著找出負責人。當他們尋找夜店所有人時,只發現一些匿名公司,無法釐清公司相關人士的身份。最後,一些相關人士遭受起訴,部分入監服刑。但這是一件可怕的悲劇,找出應對死者負責的人不該如此困難。因為在這個許多資訊已透明化的時代,為何關於公司負責人的關鍵資訊仍無法公開?為何逃稅者、貪污的政府官員、軍火交易商等可向公眾隱瞞他們的身份?為何這個秘密是被認可的商業行為?我是指,目前匿名公司或許已成為慣例,但以往並非如此。公司的創立是為了給人們一個創新機會,不需冒太多風險。公司的創立是為了限制金融風險,並非用來當作道德盾牌。公司本來就不該匿名,也不需匿名。

 

因此談談我的期許。我的期許是:讓大家知道公司持有者及掌控者,使其再也無法藉由匿名損害公眾權益。讓我們一起掀起全球議題,改變法律,開啟一個商業公開的新時代。這個新時代擁有何種面貌?好,想像一下,如果你可上網搜尋公司真正的負責人;想像一下這項資訊免費開放,民眾、企業及執法機關等可跨國查閱;想像一下這將如何改變現狀。因此我們該如何著手?好,辦法只有一個。我們必須攜手改變全球法律,設立公開註冊系統,列出公司真正所有人,任何人皆可獲得這項資訊,消弭法律漏洞。是的,這是充滿野心的期許,但這個議題存在動力。這些年來,我見識過動力的威力,它已在這個議題上萌芽,目前正是大好時機。TED社群充滿來自各個領域,富有創意、創新精神的思想者和行動者,可造成重要影響。你確實能造成這項改變。好,簡單的起步就是我身後的網址。你可加入這個Facebook網頁支持這項運動,傳播這個理念,這將成為我們全球運動的跳板。在座的科技人員,你們可幫助我們建立公共註冊系統原型,證明它是如何強大的工具。世界各地的運動團隊已凝聚在一起,致力於這項議題。英國政府已加入支持公開註冊系統;就在上星期,歐洲議會也加入這個行列,以600:30的票數通過對公共註冊系統的支持。這就是動力(掌聲)。但現在只是起步階段,美國仍需加入這個行列,其他許多國家亦然。若要成功,我們必須共同協助及推動政客,因為若非如此,這項影響深遠、顛覆世界的改變恐怕無法實現。因為這不僅是改變法律,也需要展開對話,探討公司能做什麼,什麼才是可接受的公司架構使用方式。這並非僅是枯燥的政策議題,這是全人類的議題,影響我們所有人,這是關於站在歷史正確一方的選擇。世界公民、創新者、商業領袖、每一個人,我們需要你們。讓我們攜手展開這項全球運動,讓我們行動起來,終結匿名公司。謝謝。(掌聲)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this Talk

Anonymous companies protect corrupt individuals – from notorious drug cartel leaders to nefarious arms dealers – behind a shroud of mystery that makes it almost impossible to find and hold them responsible. But anti-corruption activist Charmian Gooch hopes to change all that. At TED2014, she shares her brave TED Prize wish: to know who owns and controls companies, to change the law, and to launch a new era of openness in business.

About the Speaker

Global Witness co-founder Charmian Gooch is the 2014 TED Prize winner. At her NGO she exposes how a global architecture of corruption is woven into the extraction and exploitation of natural resources. Full bio

Transcript

I've come here today to talk to you about a problem. It's a very simple yet devastating problem, one that spans the globe and is affecting all of us. The problem is anonymous companies. It sounds like a really dry and technical thing, doesn't it? But anonymous companies are making it difficult and sometimes impossible to find out the actual human beings responsible sometimes for really terrible crimes. So, why am I here talking to all of you? Well, I guess I am a lifelong troublemaker and when my parents taught my twin brother and I to question authority, I don't think they knew where it might lead. (Laughter) And, they probably really regretted it during my stroppy teenage years when, predictably, I questioned their authority a lot. And a lot of my school teachers didn't appreciate it much either. You see, since the age of about five I've always asked the question, but why? But why does the Earth go around the sun? But why is blood red? But why do I have to go to school? But why do I have to respect the teachers and authority? And little did I realize that this question would become the basis of everything I would do. And so it was in my twenties, a long time ago, that one rainy Sunday afternoon in North London I was sitting with Simon Taylor and Patrick Alley and we were busy stuffing envelopes for a mail out in the office of the campaign group where we worked at the time. And as usual, we were talking about the world's problems. And in particular, we were talking about the civil war in Cambodia. And we had talked about that many, many times before. But then suddenly we stopped and looked at each other and said, but why don't we try and change this? And from that slightly crazy question, over two decades and many campaigns later, including alerting the world to the problem of blood diamonds funding war, from that crazy question, Global Witness is now an 80-strong team of campaigners, investigators, journalists and lawyers. And we're all driven by the same belief, that change really is possible.

So, what exactly does Global Witness do? We investigate, we report, to uncover the people really responsible for funding conflict -- for stealing millions from citizens around the world, also known as state looting, and for destroying the environment. And then we campaign hard to change the system itself. And we're doing this because so many of the countries rich in natural resources like oil or diamonds or timber are home to some of the poorest and most dispossessed people on the planet. And much of this injustice is made possible by currently accepted business practices. And one of these is anonymous companies. Now we've come up against anonymous companies in lots of our investigations, like in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where we exposed how secretive deals involving anonymous companies had deprived the citizens of one of the poorest countries on the planet of well over a billion dollars. That's twice the country's health and education budget combined. Or in Liberia, where an international predatory logging company used front companies as it attempted to grab a really huge chunk of Liberia's unique forests. Or political corruption in Sarawak, Malaysia, which has led to the destruction of much of its forests. Well, that uses anonymous companies too. We secretly filmed some of the family of the former chief minister and a lawyer as they told our undercover investigator exactly how these dubious deals are done using such companies. And the awful thing is, there are so many other examples out there from all walks of life. This truly is a scandal of epic proportions hidden in plain sight. Whether it's the ruthless Mexican drugs cartel, the Zetas, who use anonymous companies to launder profits while their drugs-related violence is tearing communities apart across the Americas. Or the anonymous company, which bought up Americans' tax debts, piled on the legal fees and then gave homeowners a choice: Pay up or lose your home. Imagine being threatened with losing your home sometimes over a debt of just a few hundred dollars, and not being able to find out who you were really up against.

Now anonymous companies are great for sanctions busting too. As the Iranian government found out when, through a series of front companies, it owned a building in the very heart of Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue, despite American sanctions. And Juicy Couture, home of of the velvet track suit, and other companies were the unwitting, unknowing tenants there. There are just so many examples, the horesemeat scandal in Europe, the Italian mafia, they've used these companies for decades. The $100 million American Medicare fraud, the supply of weapons to wars around the world including those in Eastern Europe in the early '90s. Anonymous companies have even come to light in the recent revolution in the Ukraine.

But, for every case that we and others expose there are so many more that will remain hidden away because of the current system. And it's just a simple truth that some of the people responsible for outrageous crimes, for stealing from you and me and millions of others, they are remaining faceless and they are escaping accountability and they're doing this with ease, and they're doing it using legal structures. And really, that is unfair. Well, you might well ask, what exactly is an anonymous company, and can I really set one up, and use it, without anyone knowing who I am? Well, the answer is, yes you can. But if you're anything like me, you'll want to see some of that for yourself, so let me show you. Well first you need to work out where you want to set it up. Now, at this point you might be imagining one of those lovely tropical island tax havens but here's the thing, shockingly, my own hometown, London, and indeed the U.K., is one of the best places in the world to set up an anonymous company. And the other, even better, I'm afraid that's America. Do you know, in some states across America you need less identification to open up a company than you do to get a library card, like Delaware, which is one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous company.

Okay, so let's say it's America, and let's say it's Delaware, and now you can simply go online and find yourself a company service provider. These are the companies that can set your one up for you, and remember, it's all legal, routine business practice. So, here's one, but there are plenty of others to choose from. And having made your choice, you then pick what type of company you want and then fill in a contact, name and address. But don't worry, it doesn't have to be your name. It can be your lawyer's or your service provider's, and it's not for the public record anyway. And then you add the owner of the company. Now this is the key part, and again it doesn't have to be you, because you can get creative, because there is a whole universe out there of nominees to choose from. And nominees are the people that you can legally pay to be your company's owner. And if you don't want to involve anyone else, it doesn't even have to be an actual human being. It could be another company. And then finally, give your company a name add a few more details and make your payment. And then the service provider will take a few hours or more to process it. But there you are, in 10 minutes of online shopping you can create yourself an anonymous company. And not only is it easy, really, really easy and cheap, it's totally legal too. But the fun doesn't have to end there, maybe you want to be even more anonymous. Well, that's no problem either. You can simply keep adding layers, companies owned by companies. You can have hundreds of layers with hundreds of companies spread across lots of different countries, like a giant web, each layer adds anonymity. Each layer makes it more difficult for law enforcement and others to find out who the real owner is. But whose interests is this all serving? It might be in the interests of the company or a particular individual, but what about all of us, the public? There hasn't even been a global conversation yet about whether it's okay to misuse companies in this way. And what does it all mean for us?

Well, an example that really haunts me is one I came across recently. And it's that of a horrific fire in a nightclub in Buenos Aires about a decade ago. It was the night before New Year's Eve. Three thousand very happy revelers, many of them teenagers, were crammed into a space meant for 1,000. And then tragedy struck, a fire broke out plastic decorations were melting from the ceiling and toxic smoke filled the club. So people tried to escape only to find that some of the fire doors had been chained shut. Over 200 people died. Seven hundred were injured trying to get out. And as the victims' families and the city and the country reeled in shock, investigators tried to find out who was responsible. And as they looked for the owners of the club, they found instead anonymous companies, and confusion surrounded the identities of those involved with the companies. Now ultimately, a range of people were charged and some went to jail. But this was an awful tragedy, and it shouldn't have been so difficult just to try and find out who was responsible for those deaths. Because in an age when there is so much information out there in the open, why should this crucial information about company ownership stay hidden away? Why should tax evaders, corrupt government officials, arms traders and more, be able to hide their identities from us, the public? Why should this secrecy be such an accepted business practice? Anonymous companies might be the norm right now but it wasn't always this way. Companies were created to give people a chance to innovate and not have to put everything on the line. Companies were created to limit financial risk, they were never intended to be used as a moral shield. Companies were never intended to be anonymous, and they don't have to be.

And so I come to my wish. My wish is for us to know who owns and controls companies so that they can no longer be used anonymously against the public good. Together let's ignite world opinion, change the law, and launch a new era of openness in business. So what might this look like? Well, imagine if you could go online and look up the real owner of a company. Imagine if this data were open and free, accessible across borders for citizens and businesses and law enforcement alike. Imagine what a game changer that would be. So how are we going to do this? Well, there is only one way. Together, we have to change the law globally to create public registries which list the true owners of companies and can be accessed by all with no loopholes. And yes, this is ambitious, but there is momentum on this issue, and over the years I have seen the sheer power of momentum, and it's just starting on this issue. There is such an opportunity right now. And the TED community of creative and innovative thinkers and doers across all of society could make the crucial difference. You really can make this change happen. Now, a simple starting point is the address behind me for a Facebook page that you can join now to support the campaign and spread the word. It's going to be a springboard for our global campaigning. And the techies among you, you could really help us create a prototype public registry to demonstrate what a powerful tool this could be. Campaign groups from around the world have come together to work on this issue. The U.K. government is already on board; it supports these public registries. And just last week, the European Parliament came on board with a vote 600 to 30 in favor of public registries. That is momentum. (Applause) But it's early days. America still needs to come on board, as do so many other countries. And to succeed we will all together need to help and push our politicians, because without that, real far-reaching, world-shifting change just isn't going to happen. Because this isn't just about changing the law, this is about starting a conversation about what it's okay for companies to do, and in what ways is it acceptable to use company structures. This isn't just a dry policy issue. This is a human issue which affects us all. This is about being on the right side of history. Global citizens, innovators, business leaders, individuals, we need you. Together, let's kickstart this global movement. Let's just do it, let's end anonymous companies. Thank you. (Applause)


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