Companies House, my virtual Russian squatter and me
CYNTHIA O’MURCHU , 30 June 2021
If Britain’s company registry is to be believed, my family and I have been sharing our dwelling with a Russian in his mid-forties. For a time, our place doubled as an office for his start-up, which he set up last year, and in which he is the sole shareholder.
The trouble is, it’s not true. We have never heard of “the Russian”. But evicting our virtual squatter turned out to be complex — and costly.
Trawling through public records is the backbone of my work as I follow global money flows searching for evidence of financial fraud or accounting acrobatics. So I’m aware that records at the UK corporate registry, Companies House, contain errors and lies. Continue reading “Article: Companies House, my virtual Russian squatter and me”
How corrupt is Britain and will the government do anything about it?
Prem Sikka , 28 May 2021
The parliamentary debate was often framed by the minister and others around the narrative that Johnny Foreigner is corrupt and a threat to our values and global stability. The Minister said that 22 individuals from six countries have been sanctioned. No doubt, there are corrupt persons all around the world, but what about home grown corruption.
‘Serious corruption’ may be associated with bribery, misappropriation of property and much more. It is not defined in legislation, but its understanding is framed by seven policy priorities. One of these is that a practice is considered as ‘serious corruption’ if it ‘undermines a country’s democratic governance, the rule of law and human rights’. Continue reading “Article: How corrupt is Britain and will the government do anything about it?”
UK daily: President urges Britain to curb Belarus money laundering activity
Andrew Whyte, 26 May 2021
President Kersti Kaljulaid has called on the United Kingdom to join the European Union in opposition to the Alexander Lukashenko regime in Belarus, along with those of other anti-democratic governments which often use London as a conduit for large scale money-laundering activities, British daily The Guardian reports.
Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s World at One program Tuesday, the president noted that she had already raised the issue in 2018 following the poisoning of Russian former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the southern English town of Salisbury – thought to be the work of Skripal’s former employer, the GRU – The Guardian reports. Continue reading “Article: UK daily: President urges Britain to curb Belarus money laundering activity”
What links cybercrime, terrorism and illegal trade? Dark money
Oliver Bullough, 18 May 2021
In March, the government published its review of all the threats facing this country, and how it would respond to them, from hostile autocracies and cybercrime to terrorism and trade. Running through the pages of this huge and complex document, like lead through a pencil, is one consistent vulnerability: dark money.
No matter who you identify as our adversaries – mafia groups, al-Qaida, whoever – they all hide their wealth in the shadows of the financial system: by obscuring ownership with shell companies, or using dodgy banks, or by holding wealth in the form of physical assets, such as fine art. And shining light on those shadows will expose their secrets and help make us all safer. It will also make us more prosperous: more than 2,200 acts of fraud are reported every day in Britain. Those crimes cost us billions upon billions of pounds, and often most affect older and vulnerable people. Continue reading “Article: What links cybercrime, terrorism and illegal trade? Dark money”
British Fraud Unit Is Investigating Gupta and Greensill
Stanley Reed, 14 May 2021
Britain’s financial crime unit is investigating suspected fraud and money laundering involving the businesses of Sanjeev Gupta, whose global metals empire ballooned in recent years with the aid of billions of dollars in financing from the failed firm Greensill Capital.
The Serious Fraud Office said Friday it was looking into potential fraud “in relation to the financing and conduct of the business of companies” within the Gupta Family Group Alliance, “including its financing arrangements with Greensill Capital UK.”
The announcement is the first indication that British authorities may pursue criminal charges against Mr. Gupta, the metals trader who runs the loose collection of businesses that bear the family name, and his ties to the finance firm founded by Lex Greensill.
That company, which expanded quickly over the past decade, collapsed spectacularly in March, entangling SoftBank and Credit Suisse and igniting a political scandal in Britain.
The Gupta companies and Greensill Capital were closely intertwined, and Mr. Gupta and Mr. Greensill were entrepreneurs who got rich as their businesses expanded. Greensill built up its so-called supply chain finance business by lending money against the sales of Mr. Gupta’s companies.
Greensill then packaged the loans into securities to be sold to investors by Credit Suisse and other firms. Greensill’s collapse was partly caused by regulators’ and insurance companies’ concerns that it was overreliant on loans to the Gupta group.
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Will ‘Global Britain’ clamp down on money laundering?
Tom Burgis, 28 April 2021
In March 2014, a few days after Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Crimea, a British official arriving for a meeting of the UK’s National Security Council failed to shield his notes from the Downing Street photographers. Any response to the Kremlin’s aggression should not, the notes read, “close London’s financial centre to Russians”. The government subsequently explained that it “wanted to target action against Moscow and not damage British interests”.
Seven years on, the assessment is very different. Last year’s report on Russia by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee — eventually published after a contentious delay — found that the warm British welcome for Russian money “offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London ‘laundromat’”. Continue reading “Article: Will ‘Global Britain’ clamp down on money laundering?”
Britain targets 22 people with new anti-corruption sanctions
JILL LAWLESS , 26 April 2021
LONDON — Britain imposed asset freezes and travel bans Monday on 22 people accused of bribery, kickbacks and fraud in its first use of new sanctions powers to target corruption around the world.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told lawmakers that the sanctions would prevent the U.K. from being used as “a haven for dirty money.”
The list includes 14 Russians implicated in a $230 million tax fraud and three members of the Gupta business family who are enmeshed in a corruption scandal in South Africa. Britain is also sanctioning businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal, accused of stealing state assets in impoverished South Sudan, and individuals from Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala. Continue reading “Article: Britain targets 22 people with new anti-corruption sanctions”
Bank of England sees potential risks from cloud data providers
Reuters, 21 April 2021
The Bank of England might strengthen its controls on cloud data providers and other technology firms to counter possible risks to the stability of the financial system from the rise of fintech, Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said.
The Bank of England (BoE) has expressed concerns before about the reliance by financial firms, especially fintech startups, on third-party technology companies for key parts of their operations, and Ramsden said this scrutiny would intensify. Continue reading “Article: Bank of England sees potential risks from cloud data providers”
Britain to crack down on online fraud after LCF collapse
Huw Jones, 21 April 2021
Britain will crack down on online scams and make platforms that make money from advertising financial products more accountable, financial services minister John Glen said on Wednesday.
A report into the collapse of London Capital & Finance investment firm recommended that the government should consider including financial fraud in its proposed law on online safety. LCF was authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority but the mini-bonds it sold online were unregulated.
The government said on Monday it would pay up to 120 million pounds in compensation to many of the 11,600 investors who lost up to 237 million pounds when the fund collapsed in early 2019. The Serious Fraud Office is investigating the collapse. Continue reading “Article: Britain to crack down on online fraud after LCF collapse”
The war against money-laundering is being lost
The Economist, 12 April 2021
The global system for financial crime is hugely expensive and largely ineffective.
YET ANOTHER bank is preparing to face the music over alleged failings in its efforts to curb flows of dirty money. In the coming weeks NatWest, one of Britain’s largest lenders, is set to appear in court in London to respond to charges that it failed to properly scrutinise a gold-dealing client that deposited £365m ($502m) with the bank—£264m of it in cash. Continue reading “Article: The war against money-laundering is being lost”
Britain’s NatWest bank faces money laundering charges
Tom Wilson, Iain Withers, 16 March 2021
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s financial regulator has started a criminal action against NatWest over allegations it failed to detect suspicious activity by a customer depositing nearly 400 million pounds ($553 million) over five years, mostly in cash.
The action is the first such case against a British bank under a 2007 money laundering law. If convicted, the bank faces a maximum penalty of an unlimited fine.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it was bringing the proceedings after NatWest’s systems failed to adequately monitor and scrutinise activity over an account held by a British customer between November 2011 and October 2016.
Around 365 million pounds was paid into the unnamed customer’s accounts, of which around 264 million pounds was in cash, the watchdog alleged.
NatWest had previously disclosed in its 2020 annual report an FCA investigation in relation to “certain money services businesses and related parties”.
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Britain’s collusion with radical Islam: Interview with Mark Curtis
Ian Sinclair, 18 March 2018
A former Research Fellow at Chatham House and the ex-Director of the World Development Movement, British historian Mark Curtis has published several books on UK foreign policy, including 2003’s Web of Deceit: Britain’s Real Role in the World, endorsed by Noam Chomsky and John Pilger. Ian Sinclair asked Curtis about the recently published new edition of his 2010 book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam.
Ian Sinclair: With the so-called ‘war on terror’ the dominant framework for understanding Western foreign policy since 9/11, the central argument of your book – that Britain has been colluding with radical Islam for decades – will be a shock to many people. Can you give some examples?
Mark Curtis: UK governments – Conservative and Labour – have been colluding for decades with two sets of Islamist actors which have strong connections with each other.
In the first group are the major state sponsors of Islamist terrorism, the two most important of which are key British allies with whom London has long-standing strategic partnerships – Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The second group includes extremist private movements and organisations whom Britain has worked alongside and sometimes trained and financed, in order to promote specific foreign policy objectives. The roots of this lie in divide and rule policies under colonialism but collusion of this type took off in Afghanistan in the 1980s, when Britain, along with the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, covertly supported the resistance to defeat the Soviet occupation of the country. After the jihad in Afghanistan, Britain had private dealings of one kind or another with militants in various organisations, including Pakistan’s Harkat ul-Ansar, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), all of which had strong links to Bin Laden’s al-Qaida. Covert actions have been undertaken with these and other forces in Central Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe.
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US fines Deutsche Bank, UBS and HSBC over market manipulation
Agence France-Presse, 30 January 2018
US authorities on Monday announced fines and charges against three major European banks and eight individuals accused of manipulating futures markets for precious metals.
Deutsche Bank, UBS and HSBC will together pay a total of $46.6 million to settle allegations that traders at the banks worked to manipulate futures markets in precious metals through a process known as “spoofing,” the Justice Department and Commodity Futures Trading Commission said.Seven former traders, including ex-UBS trader Andre Flotron, who was indicted last year, as well as a technology consultant, also face charges of “spoofing” — in which traders place and then abort trades to manipulate prices — on markets for various precious metals including gold and silver between early 2008 and about 2014. Continue reading “Article: US fines Deutsche Bank, UBS and HSBC over market manipulation”
Deutsche Bank hit with spoofing fine by US Justice Department
Deutsche Welle, 29 January 2018
US authorities have fined Deutsche Bank and two other European finance institutions for manipulating markets. Germany warned its best-known bank not to overdo bonuses — it’d be bad for its already soured image. Continue reading “Article: Deutsche Bank hit with spoofing fine by US Justice Department”
UK denies collusion with terror suspect torture
David Milliken, 09 August 2009
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said its security services worked to avoid colluding in mistreatment of terrorism suspects held overseas, after a report from lawmakers on Sunday expressed concern about cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies.
Foreign Minister David Miliband and Interior Minister Alan Johnson defended Britain’s intelligence links with countries where detainees are at risk of torture or other abuse in a joint newspaper article.
“All the most serious plots and attacks in the UK in this decade have had significant links abroad. Our agencies must work with their equivalents overseas. So we have to work hard to ensure that we do not collude in torture or mistreatment,” the ministers wrote in the Sunday Telegraph. Continue reading “Article: UK denies collusion with terror suspect torture”