Last Friday the Finance Ministers of the 28 EU Member States were gathered in Brussels to discuss the revision of the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive. ONE couldn’t miss this chance to expose the shocking truth about how easy it is for criminals to hide their proceeds in anonymous shell companies. Enter the Stash-the-Cash campaign’s first outing in Brussels…
Stash-the-Cash.com is a spoof company that we have set up to help criminals set up anonymous companies to launder the proceeds of their crimes. While it is not really in business, it could be, and the problems caused by phantom firms are only too real.
Currently anonymous shell companies are frequently used to illicitly divert billions of euros from African economies.
The EU has the opportunity to crack down on the use of these phantom firms by strengthening the provisions regarding the transparency of companies’ real owners in the current review of the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
On Friday morning ONE pitched up at the entrance to the Council meeting of European Finance Ministers (ECOFIN). Armed with our bright yellow Stash-the-Cash t-shirts we offered our services to wannabe drug barons, people and arms traffickers – shouting ‘do you deal in drugs, women or guns, sir?’ certainly gets the attention at 8.45am! We soon told our targets about the motives for our campaign to push for public registries containing information about beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
As UK Prime Minister Cameron wrote to European Leaders ahead of the ECOFIN meeting: ‘a publicly accessible registry provides the best outcome for sound corporate behaviour; more effective law and tax enforcement; and for helping authorities, including those in developing countries, prevent misuse of companies for illicit purposes’.
Pushed by our French equivalent Cache-ton-Cash, the meeting delivered an announcement by the French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici who called on the EU to set up public and centralized registers of beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
— Pierre Moscovici (@pierremoscovici) November 14, 2013
We urge all EU Member States to speak up and agree with what will be, as Cameron said, ‘a significant step towards breaking through the walls of corporate secrecy’.
Sign our petition to tell European Leaders to fight Phantom Firms and stay tuned for news of our next moves in the Stash-the-Cash campaign!