By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 28 February 2022 • 7:41
“No place for dirty money” as PM moves to stop laundering
The UK government have finally presented plans to stop the money laundering that the country is renowned for, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying that the country is “No place for dirty money.”
It is understood that the government will table the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement Bill) on Tuesday, which they say will stop the laundering of ill-gotten wealth through the purchase of UK property.
Underlying the bill first reported by Sky News is the need for property owners in the UK to declare their true identity, which will target those who use shell companies to make their purchases. A separate Economic Crime Bill is also in the offing, which wlll target company ownership. It is understood that the bills allow for the jailing of anyone who breaks the rules, for up to five years.
Most importantly is that the bill is to apply the law retrospectively covering properties bought in the last 20 years and in Scotland since 2014.
A No 10 source said: “Transparency is key to understanding who should be sanctioned. It’s our ambition to do this early next week but there’s a lot of work still to be done.” They add that it could take up to a year for the bill to be fully enacted as a result.
Existing unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) will also be expanded, with law enforcement being given more time to review material provided in response to the order, and being protected from incurring substantial legal costs if they bring a reasonable case that is unsuccessful. These allow law enforcement to seize assets without having to prove they were obtained through criminal activity.
The Treasury is also set to introduce a “strict civil liability test” for imposing fines for breach of international sanctions, rather than having to prove firms had knowledge or a “reasonable cause to suspect” the breach. This will place a greater onus on companies to check who they are doing business with.
Mr Johnson said: “There is no place for dirty money in the UK. We are going faster and harder to tear back the façade that those supporting Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.
“Those backing Putin have been put on notice: there will be nowhere to hide your ill-gotten gains.”
A detailed white paper is also being published ahead of a second Economic Crime Bill, setting out the reform of Companies House with anyone setting up, running, owning or controlling a company in the UK needing to verify their true identity with Companies House. Officials will be given the power to challenge dubious information and inform security agencies.
The “no place for dirty money” comments come as Russia attempts to ramp up its assault on neighbour The Ukraine, effectively changing the economic and political world as we have come to know it.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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