Press release 04th Mar 2019

Troika Laundromat highlights UK role in the global movement of billions of pounds in suspicious funds

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4th March 2019, London – The “Troika Laundromat” findings, exposed today by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and partners, once again underlines the scale of the UK’s involvement in suspicious wealth flows, facilitated by secretive shell companies and accepted by respected British institutions.

The Troika Laundromat was reportedly discovered in a wider leak of 1.3 million banking transactions involving more than 238 thousand companies and billions of pounds in payments. The data reveals a complex system designed to move vast amounts of funds for elites from former Soviet-states to destinations around the world. A substantial proportion of these funds are alledged to have passed through a Lithuanian bank, which has since collapsed after their owners were accused of embezzlement and money laundering.

As with previous ‘laundromats’, the UK and it’s offshore financial centres were key conduits and destination points for these suspect funds. An assessment of the leaked data found companies incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and the UK played a key role in moving these funds. The release of more details is anticipated over the coming days.

Suspicious funds also flowed into UK property, private schools, luxury goods, artwork and prestigious institutions, which allegedly included The Prince’s Charitable Foundation.

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

“It seems whenever there is a global money laundering scandal Britain features in its role as a transit and destination country for illicit wealth. The Troika Laundromat cases shows UK companies alongside those in the British Overseas Territories appear to have played a major part in moving these funds around the world and a myriad of well-known British institutions have accepted funds of suspicious origin.”

“When money is stolen there are always victims. To turn a blind eye to the hiding of illicit wealth is to allow these crimes to take place.”

“UK Government and law enforcement have increasingly turned their attention to the problem of dirty money. We have seen positive change, but the UK remains vulnerable to illicit wealth. It is still too easy for criminals to access UK shell companies, whilst Companies House lack the powers needed to carry out checks on information it receives. In addition to this, firms, providing professional services in the UK are not doing enough to detect and prevent corrupt wealth entering the financial system. As long as this remains the case, Britain will continue to offer a safe haven for dirty money.”