26th October 2016 - Islwyn MP calls on government to act on overseas territories’ secrecy
The MP for Islwyn, Chris Evans, has called on the Government to ensure British Overseas Territories and Crown Dominions improve company ownership transparency while contributing to a debate on the Criminal Finances Bill 2016.
The Government Bill, which aims to improve the Government’s ability to target the revenue generated by organised crime, focusing in particular on money-laundering and terrorist finance.
New measures introduced in the Bill include unexplained wealth orders, improved criminal asset seizure and forfeiture powers, reform of the ‘Suspicious Activity Reports’ regime, information sharing between banks and disclosure orders.
The Bill would also create two new offences to allow corporate entities to be prosecuted for facilitating the evasion of UK and foreign taxes of UK-based companies. The measures could also be used in counter-terrorism investigations.
Mr Evans said: ‘I broadly support the principles outlined in this Bill. It is vital that law enforcement have the powers necessary to tackle organised crime, terrorism and international corruption.
‘However the measures in this Bill would be undermined by the lack of transparency surrounding companies and trusts based in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dominions, which are so often used to launder money and hide criminal assets.
‘The Government has committed to improving transparency in overseas territories. I urge them to act as soon as possible to make good on this commitment by setting a deadline for overseas territories to improve transparency. Otherwise this Bill and the powers included in it could be bypassed by some of the most sophisticated and dangerous criminals.’
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