Great moment in the fight against corruption

Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley.
Nigel Mills, Conservative MP for Amber Valley.

In parliament last week the sanctions and anti-money laundering bill came back before the house.

Excitingly, an amendment I supported on the creation of public registers of beneficial ownership of companies registered in British Overseas Territories (OTs), gained the support of the government and was added to the bill.

The passing of this cross-party amendment signifies a great moment in the fight against corruption and money-laundering.

As co-chair of the Anti-Corruption APPG I am pleased that the government chose to support this, marking a move towards greater transparency.

The need for greater transparency is demon-strated in Global Witness’s recent analysis, which shows that over the last ten years more than seven times more money has flowed from Russia to the OTs than to the UK itself.

The research also identities a number of cases which demonstrate this wealth is the proceeds of crime and suspected corruption.

With £34bn of Russian money currently invested in the OTs, the third most popular place to store money, it is vital that the public registers of beneficial ownership are created so that the sources of this money can be identified. A serious step towards combating the problem.

We do not want to legislate directly for the OTs in breach of our long standing constitutional arrangements respecting their autonomy.

But the majority view of the UK parliament is that the UK and its OTs must lead the way in the fight against corruption.

To simply wait for others to adopt this standard interna-tionally and then follow suit, leaves much to be desired in our moral conscience.

Especially when the traffic of corrupt money and illicit finance around the world keeps the most vulnerable locked in poverty.

Indeed, Oxfam among other charities have welcomed the move, since the end of secrecy in tax havens will help developing countries to recover billions of lost income which can be put towards much-needed schools and hospitals instead.