Law

Fears UK regulation change could save you scrutiny of money launderers

Plans to introduce legal guidelines in Britain to combat cash laundering could save you the media and researchers from accessing critical facts at the tide of dirty cash flowing around the sector, campaigners, and reporters have warned.

An open letter to the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has about eighty signatories along with the son of the murdered anti-corruption reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia and reporters from the Guardian, Times and BBC.

They say the government’s approach to a brand new check-in of beneficiaries of obscure monetary structures risks undermining preceding efforts to combat illicit economic flows.

The check-in is being updated due to the passage of the fifth anti-cash laundering directive (5MLD), passed by the EU after the Panama Papers revelations, which have been pronounced by way of a global collaboration of information companies inclusive of the Guardian.

Proposals posted by means of the Treasury this yr say newshounds and researchers will present evidence of wrongdoing earlier than getting access to the check-in.

The letter’s signatories have argued that by filing proof to Revenue & Customs to decide whether or not access to the check-in must be granted, it’s miles possible that HMRC should trigger an investigation, that may regularly take many years, all through which time it is not going that any journalism or research will be posted.

The letter, despatched by means of the anti-corruption organization Global Witness because the first worldwide conference for media freedom opens in London, reads: “The achievement of this summit offers the possibility for the United Kingdom government to set the gold standard for an surrounding that permits newshounds to preserve the powerful to account.

“Sadly, the government’s contemporary technique to implementing a key piece of legislation to combat money laundering – the fifth anti-money laundering directive – does not meet this popular. It seems designed to frustrate reporters and researchers from getting access to and ultimately reporting on critical data approximately the beneficiaries of the opaque system of financial trusts that have tax liabilities inside the UK.”

The letter adds: “The UK government’s inspiration for transposing this directive into countrywide regulation restricts this legitimate interest to peer and file in this records with the aid of requiring reporters and researchers to provide evidence of wrongdoing earlier than having access to the register, completely undermining the goals of 5MLD.”

The coalition of NGOs and reporters stated it become additionally worried by means of the poor connotations that the UK government attached to newshounds and researchers the use of the transparency created by means of the regulation to make “speculative inquiries”.

The Panama Papers comprised eleven.5m files leaked from the Panama-based totally regulation firm Mossack Fonseca. The files had been leaked to the German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the Washington-based totally International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian, the BBC, and different media organizations.

Among revelations stated within the Guardian became a network of secret offshore offers and tremendous loans worth $2bn (£1.4bn) that lay a trail to Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.

The papers also uncovered the monetary affairs of the former Icelandic top minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who stepped down after the papers have been published. They showed he co-owned an enterprise set up in 2007 inside the British Virgin Islands to keep investments with his rich accomplice and later spouse, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir.

And they discovered that the then British high minister David Cameron’s late father, Ian, ran an offshore fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc, which avoided paying tax in Britain by hiring a small army of Bahamas citizens to signal its office work.

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