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Dominic Kavakeb
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TransparencyUK RT @daily_politics: "We have identified £4.4bn worth of property assets in the UK purchased with suspicious wealth" @duncanhames of @Transp

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Secrecy, or more specifically the use of secret companies incorporated in offshore jurisdictions, undermines money laundering investigations and leaves the door open for corrupt wealth – stolen from around the world – to be invested in high-end UK property.

“It’s easy to think that corruption happens somewhere over there, carried out by a bunch of greedy despots. The reality is that the engine of corruption exists far beyond the shores of countries like Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria or Turkmenistan. This engine is driven by our international banking system, by the problem of anonymous shell companies, by the secrecy that we have afforded big oil, gas and mining operations and, most of all, by the failure of our politicians to back up their rhetoric.”Charmian Gooch of Global Witness, TED Prize winner 2014.

The UK Government has announced that transparency and anti-corruption will be key elements at the G8 summit this year. Much needed action on money laundering provides an opportunity to live up to that promise.

It was a surprise to read in yesterday’s Guardian and elsewhere the remarks of Sir Roger Carr, President of the CBI, that tax avoidance “cannot be about morality – there are no absolutes”.

The recent leaks of information about who actually owns the companies registered in the British Virgin Islands offer a first glimpse for many people into this very murky world.

Every year billions of pounds are funneled through UK banks, helping to conceal corrupt ventures abroad. The people who drive the theft, movement, and concealment of corrupted funds cannot do so without the willingness of financial institutions to take the money, and the inadequate company regulations which enable their identities to remain hidden. 

Pressure on what are alternatively called ‘offshore havens’, ‘tax havens’ or ‘secrecy jurisdictions’ is reaching an unprecedented level. There are more than fifty such havens world-wide, and governments are finally coming around to the idea voiced by activists that tougher regulation is needed.

 

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