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UK’s anti-corruption commitment must be backed by quick action

ONE today congratulates the Government’s plans to  publish new draft legislation on the creation of a register of the beneficial ownership of overseas companies as part of its new Anti-Corruption Strategy.

Romilly Greenhill, UK Director of ONE, said the plans – which include appointing a new Anti-Corruption Champion, along with the new public registers of companies and other entities that own property in the UK or participate in Government contracts – would enhance the UK’s reputation for fairness and justice.

She said: “Corruption not only undermines economic development and leads to misery for the world’s poorest, it also taints the integrity of the UK financial system.

“So it is imperative that meaningful action on this strategy is taken quickly and the Government seeks to close the gaps in the UK financial system that allow unscrupulous companies, organisations, and individuals to get away with corruption”.

Added Greenhill:  “The public register of the true owners of properties is a long-time coming and a welcome asset to the fight against corruption.

“And it is essential that the British Government also makes information about the real owners behind trusts publicly available and demands that the UK’s Overseas Territories implement similar, public registers – otherwise its new strategy will be closing a door while leaving a window open.”

Addressing corruption can build more stable and prosperous societies that create jobs, wealth and a resilient climate for doing business, Greenhill said.

ONE estimates that up to $1 trillion is siphoned out of developing countries annually, depriving them of much needed revenue that, if taxed, could be spent on hospitals or schools.

Yet the gaps in the UK financial system play a significant role in facilitating corruption, highlighting the need for bold and effective action here at home to clamp down on this scourge.