'Giant leap forward' for ending the UK’s role as a safe haven for dirty money

By agency reporter
May 2, 2018

Transparency International has welcomed the Government accepting a cross-party amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill for Britain’s Overseas Territories, to bring in public registers that will reveal the individuals behind companies formed in these jurisdictions.

The amendment means that the UK must, no later than 31 December 2020, prepare a draft Order in Council requiring the Government of any British Overseas Territories that has not introduced such a register to do so.

Secrecy in these territories has allowed corrupt individuals from around the world to hide the hundreds of billions of pounds in wealth they have stolen from their populations and launder it through global financial centres like the UK. Last week, working with Transparency International, BBC Panorama published details of a Ukrainian crime gang that had purchased eight luxury properties in London using British Virgin Islands (BVI) companies. Transparency International has found at least £4.4 billion worth of property in the UK bought with suspicious wealth – half of this using companies based in just the BVI alone.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said, “This is very welcome news that the UK will finally be able to open up the financial centres in the British Overseas Territories. These jurisdictions have long been the Achilles Heel of our defences against dirty money. Agreement on this represents a hugely significant moment in the fight against corruption, not just in the UK but around the world.”

 “This afternoon, corrupt individuals everywhere will be deeply concerned that they are about to lose the secrecy afforded by the British Overseas Territories that has until now given them an easy route to launder their ill-gotten gains.”

“We hope that those territories will now use the opportunity they have over the next 18 months to implement these registers and shut the door to dirty money.” 

Transparency International says it pays tribute to the hard work of all campaigners in both civil society and Parliament who have worked to make this a reality.

* Transparency International UK http://www.transparency.org.uk/

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