Press release 10th May 2022

​​​​​​​Queen’s Speech 2022: Welcome measures to boost UK’s dirty money defences but significant gaps remain

May 10, 2022 - The inclusion of a second Economic Crime Bill in the Government’s legislative agenda is another positive step in the fight against dirty money, but more needs to be done to plug the remaining gaps in Britain’s defences, Transparency International UK said today.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill featured in today’s Queen’s Speech includes welcome measures such as long-overdue reforms to Companies House and reforms to prevent the abuse of limited liability partnerships.

Ministers have previously committed to table this Bill early in the Parliamentary session.

In addition to this second tranche of economic crime legislation, Transparency International UK is calling on the Government to address significant remaining gaps in Britain’s defences against dirty money.

These include cracking down on professional services that enable the passage of dirty money through the UK’s financial system, an end to corporate secrecy in Britain’s offshore financial centres, and creating a credible deterrent against economic crime.


Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said:

“After years of campaigning for measures to strengthen Britain’s defences against dirty money, it is heartening to see the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill included in the Government’s legislative agenda. For too long the UK’s lax company registration system has been open to abuse by those seeking to launder the proceeds of crime and corruption. The changes in this Bill would represent a significant step toward ending Britain’s role as a global hub for dirty money, but far more will need to be done if we are to stop the corrupt and other criminals using this country as a safe haven for their ill-gotten gains. 

“The Government should back this legislation with diplomatic efforts to end secrecy in Britain’s offshore financial centres, overhaul the private sector’s dirty money defences, and significantly increase funding for law enforcement to go after money launderers. It is vital that the Government does not pass up this opportunity to press the advantage against kleptocrats who hide their dirty money in the UK.”


To ensure there is no one to help kleptocrats and oligarchs, the Government should:

• Consolidate the UK’s fragmented and ineffective anti-money laundering (AML) supervisory regime.

Reform corporate criminal liability laws to ensure that enablers can be held to account.

• Combat the use of Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation (SLAPPs) which stifle public interest criticism of oligarchs and kleptocrats.


To ensure that the UK offers nowhere to hide for the corrupt and other criminals, the Government should:

• Empower and resource Companies House (including by significantly raising company registration fees) to effectively monitor, verify, and investigate suspicious companies.

• Require the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories to introduce public company ownership registers by the end of 2022 and proactively share information with UK authorities to enable comprehensive sanctions designations until such registers are in place.

• Provide transparency about national security risks posed by Tier 1 (Investor) visas (‘golden visas') issued before the route was scrapped in February 2022, and ensure proper checks on dirty money are carried out across all visa routes to avoid repeating mistakes made over these visas when in many cases minimal checks were done on applicants’ source of wealth.


To ensure that there is no impunity for economic crime, the Government should:

• Significantly increase resourcing for law enforcement agencies fighting economic crime.

• Support whistleblowers to play an effective role in tackling economic crime.


Notes to editors

Our research has previously found at least 929 UK shell companies used in 89 corruption and money laundering cases, amounting to around £137 billion globally in potential economic damage. The actual number of UK companies used in serious financial crime could be much higher - in the thousands or tens of thousands.