Dirty money trail leads TI UK to over 60 accountancy firms
From Argentina to Azerbaijan, businesses from Britain and its offshore financial centres have played a key role in over 400 corruption cases and around £325 billion worth of economic damage in recent decades.
According to a new report launched by Transparency International UK, more than 60 different "recognised" UK accountancy firms of varying sizes, including all four ‘big four’ firms, have signed off accounts for UK shell companies.
Although there is no suggestion that these firms were knowingly involved in economic crime, TI UK pointed out that these businesses helped acquire 2,225 companies in Britain and its overseas territories, used to obtain, move and defend corrupt or suspicious wealth.
TI derived these figures by analysing accounts of 583 UK companies over a period of 10 years, amounting 2,775 documents.
Aside from accounting firms, among the firms and organisations that received suspect funds are 86 banks and financial institutions, 81 law firms, as well as a number of schools, universities, architecture and interior design firms.
“It’s enough to sound the alarm but speak to anyone who has been working in this field long enough and they will tell you we have barely scratched the surface,” said Daniel Bruce, chief executive at TI UK.
Mr Bruce noted that while government has shown initiative in recent years, it should concern them and regulators that there are still too many who are willing to provide a helping hand to kleptocrats and other criminals.
“Our system for identifying and tackling dirty money needs a radical overhaul to deter British firms from becoming enablers of corruption,” he said.
“This report couldn’t come at a more important time. As the UK seeks to renegotiate its relationship with the world, it should consider what it wants to be: a beacon of good governance and the rule of law, or a buccaneer floating off the coast of Europe.”
As well as exposing the scale of the problem, TI UK makes numerous constructive recommendations that it considers essential to taking the UK in the right direction on this issue.
Read the full report here.