UK Should better Watch Out: it is becoming hub for Dirty Money

UK Should better Watch Out: it is becoming hub for Dirty Money

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UK Should better Watch Out: it is becoming hub for Dirty Money

Dated : 27 Dec 2020 (IST)

World’s most notorious tax fugitives are hiding in Britain such as Indian billionaires, absconding Pakistani politicians, corrupt Arab sheikhs, African despots, Russian oligarchs and many more

While taking Pakistan to task for money laundering is important, it is equally important to question the complicity of the country the money is being funnelled into — the UK and Northern Ireland.

The UK is a grand hub for dirty money — a playground for financial fraudsters. However, Britain’s denial about this fact is like Chinese denial that it is not prosecuting the Tibetan and the Quighers.

No one believes a word of it because the world’s most notorious tax fugitives are hiding in Britain such as Indian billionaires, absconding Pakistani politicians, corrupt Arab sheikhs, African despots, Russian oligarchs and many more. All kind of runaway rich men and women have found refuge in the UK.

The second reason is the inaction of the British financial regulator — the Financial Control Authority (FCA). According to corruption watch, this body has brought zero prosecutions over money laundering since 2017.

This year, this body took its inaction one step further by discontinuing seven out of 14 of its criminal investigations into possible breaches of the UK’s money laundering act in 2020, which means it shut half of its cases.

The third reason is the presence of offshore tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey and Guernsey. These are places where the looted money is routed to; they allow fraudsters to avoid paying billions in tax on their profits.

In fact, Britain is the world’s greatest enabler of corporate tax avoidance. According to the corporate tax haven index, Britain’s offshore havens account for over a third of the world’s corporate tax avoidance at $395 billion which is four times more than any country in the world.

The fourth reason is the UK’s property market. It is a prime target for money laundering. London’s most expensive homes have become a prime location to hide dirty cash.

Thousands of homes are sitting empty. The most recent government figures show that more than 278,000 homes are sitting empty across England, Scotland and Wales. At least 22,000 of these homes are in London and they have been left empty for years.

The value of these houses is estimated to be £12.2 billion, which is close to $16 billion. Scores of these empty houses have been purchased by financial fraudsters.

A report by the British government categorically mentions that criminals from Pakistan “continue to purchase high value assets such as real estate to launder illicit funds”.

There are over 500 properties that have been identified as being bought with suspicious wealth and a combined value of £5 billion pounds, which is nearly $6 billion dollars, and this is just a fraction of the real value of dirty money hidden in the UK’s property market.

Its time India takes on these merchants of dirty money and start paying them back in their own coin. Enough is enough.