The SNP has urged the UK Tory Government to crack down on loopholes that can enable money laundering through the UK.
Responding to a consultation on transparency, the SNP’s Treasury Spokesperson Alison Thewliss MP said it was time the UK Government took steps to tackle the "scale and extent of criminal activity" that can be enabled by British corporate law.
This call was in response to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s active consultation on corporate transparency and reform of the UK’s official registrar of companies, Companies House.
In her submission, Ms Thewliss pointed to the ease with which individuals can set up companies with false or incomplete information without facing consequences, as well as the abuse of Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs).
According to research from anti-corruption group Global Witness, nearly 3,000 companies list their beneficial owner on Companies House as a company based in a tax haven, even though this is against the rules. It also identified over 2,000 persons behind companies on the registry who were disqualified directors.
Speaking on her submission, Ms Thewliss said:
“This consultation response is another step forward in the SNP’s campaign to clamp down on money laundering. The UK Government must respond to the consultation without delay and set out the steps it will take to create a robust and transparent system of company registration and tackle the abuse of SLPs.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“It is imperative that the UK Government seizes this opportunity to curb the widespread abuse of SLPs, which have been used for many years to funnel millions of pounds of dirty money created by illicit business activities. For too long, Companies House has enabled these illegal schemes by providing a large decree of secrecy for the benefit of SLP owners.
“Of course, if powers over trade and industry were devolved, the Scottish Parliament could already have tackled this problem without needless heel-dragging from the Tories.”