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Unmasking the Corrupt Capital Behind Property Ownership

Written by Nick Maxwell on Monday, 27 July 2015

TI-UK discusses David Cameron’s speech in Singapore, where he announced a package of measures to tackle corruption within the UK property market.

The Prime Minister announced in Singapore this morning a package of measures that takes forward our principal recommendation in the “Corruption on Your Doorstep” paper (March 2015) and our www.ukunmaskthecorrupt.com campaign.

This is a real opportunity for the UK government to take significant steps to tackle the scourge of corrupt money that is stolen from around the world and laundered into the UK through secret companies.

The World Bank the UN investigations by Global Witness and TV investigative documentaries like “From Russia with Cash” have all highlighted just how useful the secrecy behind company ownership can be as a simple tool for money launderers. Even the National Association of Estate Agents is clear that anti-money laundering standards are too low in the sector and that offshore company ownership prevents adequate checks being carried out.

In March Transparency International UK called on the UK government to #unmaskthecorrupt and end corporate secrecy over at least, property ownership. We have recommended that all foreign companies meet the same standard of transparency as all UK companies if they are to hold UK property titles.

Today the Prime Minister has announced that he intends to:

  • Consult on ways to make property ownership by foreign companies much more transparent.
  • Publish Land Registry data this autumn on which foreign companies own which land and property title in England and Wales.
  • Examine whether there is a case for insisting that any non-UK company wishing to bid on a contract with the UK government should also publicly state who really owns it.

The detail of the consultation will be important, and we are by no means there yet. We need to consider all the other at risk sectors, including luxury goods, and professional services like finance, legal and accountancy services. But the key now is for other G20 governments to step up to the plate and improve their own frameworks for company transparency. The Anti-Corruption Summit announced by the PM to be held in 2016, will be an excellent opportunity to build international momentum behind higher standards globally.

Transparency should be the new norm of international resources-resources-business.

To address the harm that domestic corruption causes and to ensure that the UK is credible in this international agenda, the UK government will need to take further action at home – such as cleaning up money and lobbying in politics and ensuring our anti-bribery legislation is not watered down.

However, there is no denying that this is a world leading package of commitments, and we look forward to working with the UK government and other stakeholders on the coming consultations.


Read 2315 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 November 2015 10:07

Nick Maxwell

Nick is TI-UK's Head of Strategic Engagement. You can view his full bio here, and tweet him @NickJMaxwell.

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