Qualified welcome for new UK Anti-Corruption Strategy

By agency reporter
December 12, 2017

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national economic crime centre "to ensure the UK is a hostile environment for cases of fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering."

Commenting on the annpuncement, Transparency International said, "New proposals put forward by the Government, as part of the long-awaited National Anti-Corruption Strategy, are a welcome advance in the fight against corruption both at home and abroad – but the Strategy fails to address corruption in UK politics and avoids confrontation with Britain’s infamous offshore financial centres.

"Transparency International (TI) strongly supports the Government’s plan for a public register of foreign owners of UK property, ending the secrecy exploited by corrupt foreign politicians and their cronies. Legislation had been promised by next April and must not be delayed by Brexit.

"TI is concerned that compared to past policy this strategy appears to surrender to the British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, jurisdictions whose continued secrecy and lack of accountability is critical to allowing corrupt capital flows around the world as seen in the Panama and Paradise Papers.

"We welcome the appointment of John Penrose MP as Anti-Corruption Champion, and the introduction of a Minister for Economic Crime, as well as recognition for the first time of the need to act to prevent corrupt insiders in key domestic sectors including: borders, prisons, policing, and defence."

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy, Transparency International UK, said, "We broadly welcome the publication of the UK’s first national Anti-Corruption Strategy. It is a clear signal of the Government’s intent to confront the scourge of corruption on a national and international level. Words however, are the easy part – firm and timely action must now follow.

“Brexit may be the cause of the year-long delay in publishing this strategy but in preparing to leave the EU, having a clear and joined-up strategy to tackle corruption is more vital than ever. Trade policy in particular offers a new opportunity to advance the fight against corruption around the world – for ‘Global Britain’ to be a beacon, not a buccaneer.

“We are particularly pleased to see a fresh commitment to establish in law a public register of foreign ownership of UK property. The Government must now table this legislation with renewed urgency; cross-party support in Parliament has already been promised. Until then, every day that passes is another of corrupt individuals enjoying the anonymity that allows them to launder their stolen cash through our economy, and stash it in often empty houses on our streets.

“If the Prime Minister’s newly appointed Anti-Corruption Champion is indeed to challenge the Government to act against corruption, he need look no further than the issue of corruption in our politics – on which this strategy is disappointingly complacent. Instead of trumpeting the achievements of the Lobbying Act and the work of ACOBA, they should recognise that most lobbying is not covered by the Act, and that the Committee is so toothless as to have become an afterthought for former ministers approaching the revolving door on their way to a lucrative new job.”

TI has been calling for a national Anti-Corruption Strategy since 2015 – a strategy that sets out the Government’s response and long term plan to deal with corruption here in the UK, and internationally, as well as the UK’s role as a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption from around the world.

Read the Home Secretary's announcement here

* Transparencey International http://www.transparency.org.uk/

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