Fresh moves were launched in UK Parliament today to “cleanse the capital of dodgy money”.
Senior MP Tristram Hunt tabled three amendments to the Criminal Finances Bill to stop corrupt politicians, dishonest business bosses and gangsters from secretly stashing away millions by buying London properties.
City firms, including lawyers and accountants, which fail to prevent tax evasion offences would be barred from bidding for public procurement contracts and a plan to force “politically exposed” individuals suspected of being linked to serious crime to reveal the source of their property wealth would be extended to Europe.
Before MPs debated the Bill at committee stage today, Mr Hunt said: “We need to use this Bill to cleanse the capital of dodgy money. We cannot, on the one hand, support developing countries with aid and then allow their elites to funnel ill-gotten gains through the City.
“Our legal, property and financial services have been too lax in allowing the wealth and assets of the world’s poorest to be laundered through London’s banks and town houses.”
In May, following the “Panama Papers” leak, then prime minister David Cameron said foreign firms which own property in the UK would have to declare it on a public register.
Foreign companies own 100,000 properties in England and Wales, including more than 44,000 in London.
Mr Cameron acted after claims that his late father Ian’s name appeared in 11 million documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Six members of the House of Lords, three former Tory MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties were also reportedly revealed to have had offshore assets.
There was nothing to suggest that any of them, including Ian Cameron, did anything illegal.
Ministers recently announced that a “Panama taskforce” had opened civil and criminal investigations into 22 people for suspected tax evasion, identified nine potential “professional enablers” of economic crime, all of whom have alleged links with known criminals, and placed 43 high net worth individuals under special review.
Mr Hunt, Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, believes the Government has been dragging its feet, but a Department for Business spokeswoman said: “There is no delay.”
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