Next government must close anti-corruption ‘loopholes’, say MPs

The next government should commit to closing “loopholes” in Britain’s anti-corruption laws to ensure the UK is not a haven for dirty money, a cross-party group of MPs has said.

In a manifesto published on Wednesday, members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax said the winner of this year’s election would have a “unique chance for global leadership” on tackling economic crime.

But while the MPs acknowledged progress in recent years, including the passage of two Economic Crime Acts, they said there were still “a long way to go before the UK can stem the flow of dirty money”.

Veteran Labour MP and anti-corruption campaigner Dame Margaret Hodge said: “With a general election this year, all parliamentarians – both old and new – will have to work to ensure that the UK is no longer the destination of choice for criminals, kleptocrats and fraudsters.

“The next Parliament must continue the fight against our dirty money epidemic.”

In its manifesto, the APPG called for greater transparency of company and property ownership, including closing “loopholes” that allow owners to “hide” behind trusts and ensuring the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies bring in public registers of company ownership.

The MPs also called for a tightening of anti-money laundering regulations, finding ways to legally seize frozen assets, and increased resources for enforcement through reinvesting fines in an “economic crime-fighting fund”.

Conservative MP Nigel Mills, who co-chairs the APPG, said: “Economic crime is corrosive, and it impacts all of our daily lives.

“Honest people and businesses are being undercut by those not paying their fair share, while fraudsters and money launderers use and abuse the UK to aid and abet all manner of crimes.

“If we can deliver on this revolutionary manifesto, then we can once again proudly say that Britain is ‘open for business’.”